Do we have a Right to Privacy

Do we have a Right to Privacy?

Every State government has various functions but a State’s function is not to invade in one’s Privacy. Now the question comes whether the government is accountable then in order to receive information any information from the Government then one has the Right to Information Act (2005) can be used, in the same way if any individual has to prevent any unnecessary intervention regarding his personal data then he can use the Right to Privacy Act and this right is available against any Individual.

Supreme Court along with protecting the rights of the Citizens also strengthens it, like for example the Section 377, Triple Talaq case, and the Aadhar judgement.

Story behind the Right to Privacy Act:-

In MP Sharma v. UOI (1954) in which government issued investigation order to track the malpractices taking place in Dalmia Group of company, a FIR was filed, search and seizure warrant was issued. Now Dalmia group challenged this investigation as along with the search the personal documents were also being investigated, which is a violation of the fundamental rights. Supreme Court stated in this case that for the security of the State, overriding of powers for search and seizure is acceptable, and further stated that there is no provision of right to privacy in the Indian Constitution.

4th Amendment of the US constitution prohibits illegal search and seizure and provides the right of privacy to its Citizens.

Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1962)

in this case Kharak Singh was arrested on basis of dacoity but due to lack of substantial evidence he was released. Now the UP police to collect all evidence against Kharak Singh uses UP police Regulation and puts surveillance over him, now as per this regulation – Suspection, Domiciliary visits and Tracking could be done by the UP police over Kharak Singh, and afterwards Kharak Singh files a writ petition challenging the surveillance and Police Regulation as these all activities were violating his right to life and personal liberty. Supreme Court in this case only deemed Domiciliary visits as unconstitutional and all other regulations were considered to be valid, and in this case also Supreme Court stated that there is no provision of right to privacy in the Indian Constitution. But the minority decision that was provided by Justice Subba Rao is very important he stated that as per article 19(1) (D) anybody can enjoy his freedom of movement, but if it is being tracked then how does it remain free?

PUCL v. UOI (1997)

It’s the famous wire tapping case, in this case the former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar accuses the government of his phone tapping along with other 27 ministers, therefore a CBI investigation was held for disclosure of this large-scale tapping by the government. In this case PUCL(Peoples Union for Civil Liberty) filed a PIL in the Supreme Court so that a clarity is provided in the case of wire tapping, Indian Telegraph Act- S.5(2) was also challenged which provides power to the government  for phone tapping, and interception on the basis of public emergency. Supreme Court in this case provided some clarification and certain guidelines were provided as follows:-

  • Right to Life and Personal Liberty would be protected under Article 21.
  • Telephonic conversation was also covered under this article as the nature of the telephonic calls being private and intimate.
  • Indian Telegraph rules was codified under Rule 41(9)A, and such phone tapping could only be done under the authorization of Union Home Secretary or State Home Secretary.

Justice K.S. Puttaswami v. UOI (Aadhar Judgement)

Where the identity project of India was challenged on the basis of infringement of the Right to Privacy. The advocate general supporting this Act said Indian Citizens don’t have any fundamental right of Privacy and supported his argument with the famous MP Sharma and Kharak Singh case in which both the cases clearly mentioned that Indian citizen don’t have any right to privacy as their fundamental right. Supreme Court in this 9 judges bench gave the unanimous decision that Indian citizen do have a fundamental right to privacy under Article 21.

Vineet Kumar Case 2019

In which bank employees phones were being tapped on charges of bribery which was challenged in this case, so Bombay High Court said that phone tapping is permitted in case of public emergency and safety. So this case failed to match the threshold of the required clause and hence phone tapping as per this economic issue was not permitted.

So, we see that finally after the Justice Puttaswamy judgment right to privacy was being recognized.

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