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What is privacy?

  Privacy is a fundamental right, necessary for autonomy and protection of human dignity, which serves as the foundation on which many other human rights are built.

Privacy allows us to develop boundaries and manage barriers to insure us from uncontrolled interference in our lives, allowing us to discuss who we are and how we want to communicate with the world around us.  Privacy enables set barriers to limit our bodies, places and things, as well as our information and who has access to our information.

Privacy protection rules give us the power to assert our rights in the face of significant power imbalances. As a result, privacy is the use of power against irrational and irrational use of us in an attempt to protect ourselves and society, reducing what is known about us and what can be done to us, to protect others from those who want to be in control.

 It is important to have privacy for who we are as human beings and we decide on this every day.  It allows us to live without judgment, allows us to think freely without discrimination, and is an important element in giving us control over who knows what we are about.

What is Phone Tapping?

Telegraph law is an existing law and phone tapping  is regulated by this law.  When wireless telecommunications found a new place in India in 1995, new problems arose.

  In this instance, the court cited two statutory prerequisites for exercising the power of restraint, in the event of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety, and also in the case of a barrier to communication.

The terms and conditions alone are not sufficient to control a violation of the right to privacy, which is why the court in the PUCL case has created detailed protection to verify arbitrariness in issuing telephone tapping orders

 It has directed that telephone tapping orders will not be issued without the approval of the Home Secretary of the Central Government or the State Government.  Indicates the type of communication the command will be used for.

The order passed by the Home Secretary had ceased to take effect at the end of two months from the date of its enactment, although it could be renewable for six months.

 It was further directed that the original order should be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary, Law Secretary and Telephone Communications Secretary at the central level and a relevant committee at the state level and if there is a violation of the law it will remove the order and destroy the copy of the obstruction.  

  Phone tapping is a threat to the right to privacy if conducted in an unauthorized method . The baseline is that only the appropriate authority may allow a government agency to interfere with the purposes mentioned in sub-section (1) of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act

Phone Tapping and Privacy Rights in Indian Judiciary:

  At the time of drafting the Indian Constitution, there were limited examples of coding the right to privacy.  Ordinary law, for example, never explicitly mentions the doctrine of privacy.  Jude Cooley interprets the right to privacy as synonymous with the right to be left alone.

  The question of whether interference with telephone conversations has a serious offensive role on the right to privacy is considered by the Apex Court and is agreed and stated in its judgment. 

Some laws suit:

  The process regarding the right to privacy began in the state of Kharak Singh v. the United States, where the court discussed the relationship between surveillance and privacy and saw that unauthorized entry into a person’s home would interfere with his or her rights.

  Here the right to privacy was conceived around the home and unauthorized intrusion into the home was seen as an interference with the right to personal freedom.  The court recognized the people’s right to be protected in their persons, houses, papers and influences and declared that their rights would not be violated against unreasonable searches and seizures.

  Subsequently, its recognition by the court extends the right to privacy beyond the physical realm.  The PUCL court further developed the concept of privacy to include personal communication, saying, “The right to a telephone conversation without interfering with the privacy of any person’s home or office must be claimed as a” right to privacy. “

  The most specific communications surveillance is the protections granted by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India.  As can be claimed ‘rights, a telephone conversation is an important part of a person’s personal life “. 

  The court ordered that tapping on the telephone would infringe Article 21 of the Indian Constitution unless it is allowed by the procedure established by law and it infringes the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 unless it falls within the embargoes imposed by Article 19 (2).

  Furthermore, the Supreme Court has made it clear that even if the law defines situations where obstruction may occur, the law must have procedural support to ensure that the exercise of power is fair and reasonable.

  Article 21 considers the procedure established by law regarding deprivation of life or personal liberty.  The court will ensure the telephone conversation of an innocent citizen against unfair or higher interference by tapping the conversation.

  Police are not protecting convicted citizens against law enforcement and government employees ’efforts to curb corruption.  It must not be understood that the court will destroy the security forces by allowing the police to proceed illegally or irregularly to protect the citizens.

 In the present case, there is no illegal or even irregular method of tape-recording of conversations. “Sometimes if there is an important rival interest which is higher than that and if it is necessary, the right to privacy can be restricted.’’[1]

  Phone Tapping laws in India:

  The ‘right to privacy is not perfect and is subject to the procedure established by law.  This allows Section 5 of the Telegraph Act to tap the telephone and orders the government to seize authorized telegraphs and intercept messages.  Any person in case of emergency or the interest of public safety, the State Government or the Central Government or any person specially empowered by the Central or State Government, if it is compelled or expedient to do so, may take temporary possession, licensed under the said provision of Indian Telegraph Act.  Any telegraph established, maintained or operated by a person.

  Telephones and other means of communication have been enumerated by the 31 entries in the Union List of the Constitution and are based on the Federal List Ent number of the Government of India Act, 1935.  HM Cervia once enacted the law itself, enacted by the Government of India, in a notification I mandatory measures for the advancement of science, which resulted in “Post and Telegraph;  Telephone, Wireless, Broadcasting and Other Types of Communication “and Entry 31, List I of the Indian Constitution preserves this entry.

  The terms ‘intercept’ and ‘interception’ are not defined anywhere in the Indian Telegraph Act, and according to the dictionary, accepting these terms requires the same understanding in the light of meaning and by drawing inferences from other related laws.  ‘Interruption’ usually refers to an act of listening and recording communications intended for the other party.


  Finally, I would like to conclude that common sense constraint means monitoring such information through an observation device or viewing, examining or inspecting the content of any direct or indirect information and any other destination aimed at diverting direct or indirect information from it.  .  Remedies available to offenders may include cases in which the victim may file a complaint to the Human Rights Commission if the illegal obstruction violates the right to privacy.

By Moumita Muhuri

3rd year of Shyambazar Law College.

[1] Rule 1.7 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients – Comment,https://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct/rule_1_7_conflict_of_interest_current_clients/comment_on_rule_1_7/.

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