Position of Right to Privacy in India
Privacy is a very essential part of our lives. Privacy can be defined as a state where a person is free from public or private intrusion. With the coming of Aadhaar Act in India and leaking of personal Aadhaar details, it has become a hot topic to discuss. Recently, it became a Fundamental Right in India. In the light of the above incidents, it becomes pertinent to discuss the position of Right to Privacy in India.
According to Wikipedia, Right to Privacy is our right to keep a domain around us, which includes all those things that are a part of us, such as our body, home, property, thoughts, feelings, secrets and identity and an ability to choose which parts of this domain can be accessed by others, It can be referred to as protection of
- Bodily Privacy – which is also known as physical privacy. It includes unauthorised or illegal searches, raids, investigation, etc.
- Privacy of Family Life – which is a broader form of bodily privacy. This extends to the privacy of family member as the family is also a part of us.
- Privacy of Communication – which includes protection from phone tapping, bugging of place, snooping etc.
- Information Privacy – which includes the protection of personal data like bank account details, residence address, mobile no. etc.
Evolution of Right to Privacy in India
Right to Privacy in India first came before discussion in the case of M. P. Sharma vs Satish Chandra in 1954. The question before the court was whether unreasonable power granted by CrPC was in the violation of Right to Privacy. The court held that the constitution of India does not recognise Right to Privacy in India. Again in Kharak Singh vs State of U.P., the court held that no such right has been conferred upon the citizens. Therefore, secret picketing by the police can’t be said to be against the constitution. Later, in the Auto Shankar case, the court held that there needs to be a balance between Right to Privacy and Right of the Press. The court rejecting the judgement of Kharak Singh and MP Sharma said that Right to Privacy in India is implied under Right to Life and Liberty.
Finally, in Landmark Judgement of K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India, the 9 judge bench held that Right to Privacy is an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21. Right to Privacy is an internationally recognised right under various treaties such as Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Right to Privacy vis-à-vis Data Protection
In the historic judgement of K.S. Puttaswamy, India’s national identity project- Aadhaar was challenged. The court held Right of Privacy in India is a fundamental right. However, the court held it is not an absolute right. The right is subject to certain reasonable restrictions. Subsequently, Central Government appointed the Srikrishna Committee to make a robust data protection legislation in India.
Right to Privacy and Homosexuality
India is yet to legalise homosexuality in India. One personal sexual autonomy is a big facet of his privacy. Discrimination based on the sexual orientation is a violation of his Right to Life and Right to equality. In Puttswamy case, the court observed that protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Article 14, 15 and 21. The court highly criticized the 2 bench judgement in Kaushal vs Naz Foundation and went on to say that rights of minorities no matter how insular ones are as sacred as the rights given to other to protect their freedoms and liberties.
To read more about the position of Homosexuality in India click here.
To conclude, Right to Privacy touches many aspects of one’s life whether it be his personal space, sexual orientation, his identity or his communications. It took almost 70 years for the court to recognise the same. In the near future, we will observe many more aspects of Right to Privacy. Nevertheless, the foundation is laid and many more judgements will come and support the same.
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