RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN INDIA – A MYTH OR DOES IT REALLY EXIST

Harshita Raju, Delhi Metropolitan Education, Noida


Various decisions made by the Indian courts were having contradicting opinions regarding this right. Few did not acknowledge it at all and others who acknowledged them as a fundamental right under Article 21, did it indirectly.

RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN INDIA

In accordance with the Black Law Dictionary, Right to Privacy is defined as a “right be let alone, means that it is a right of every person to be free from any unwarranted interference by any person or public, but interference is allowed if it involves public matters”.

Privacy has been a part of human life from time without beginning. When the Constitution of India was framed it didn’t have any specific section acknowledging privacy as a right of every citizen of India. But through various judicial pronouncements, the right to privacy was starting to get its acknowledgement.

Various decisions made by the Indian courts were having contradicting opinions regarding this right. Few did not acknowledge it at all and others who acknowledged them as a fundamental right under Article 21, did it indirectly.

In a recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court of India, finally took a stand by recognizing in its judgement about Right to Privacy. This case came in the year 2017(Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Ors. vs Union of India) and became a landmark judgment in regards to the right to privacy in India. Under this case, the right to privacy was discussed in detail and its principles. The nine-bench court decided that the right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Art.21 of the Indian constitution.


RECENT CASES RELATION PRIVACY IN INDIA


WHATSAPP & FACEBOOK – BREACH OF PRIVACY CASE

In the year 2014, the Facebook owner bought WhatsApp. The app confirmed that it would not change any privacy policy. But in the year 2016 in September, a new policy came stating that WhatsApp can share the data to Facebook and all other companies with them (family companies) for the purpose of marketing and advertising. After this sudden policy change, Karmanya Singh Sareen filed a writ petition in the High court of Delhi, stating that this new policy will be a fundamental right breach which is awarded to citizens of India by the Indian constitution under article 21 which includes right to privacy.

The Delhi High court laid that the WhatsApp users can choose an option to delta their WhatsApp account, and WhatsApp shall delete the information of the users who are availing the above option. It also ruled out that the existing user’s information who had an account before 25th September 2016 shall not be shared by WhatsApp to Facebook.

But this decision did not satisfy the appellants and they filled further an SLP against the said decision in the Supreme court of India. The said matter is still pending before the court.


WHATSAPP PRIVACY BREACH BY NSO

In 2019 WhatsApp accused Israel based NSO and its software Pegasus that they snooped and violated the privacy of WhatsApp users belonging to the journalism and advocate sector. The victims of the snooping were from various regions of the world and India is one of them.

After this issue, the government of India accused Whatsapp, Facebook-owned company of not sharing the necessary details regarding the said attack. Whatsapp claimed that they disclosed the information about the attack to them in May 2019, but India claims that such information did not disclose the fact that India was also one of the parties whose privacy was infringed. (ongoing international case)


AADHAAR (UIDAI) – BREACH OF PRIVACY CASE

In the year 2010 National Identification Authority of India Bill was introduced. This bill stated that every Indian resident will get a 12-digit number which will be a unique Identification Number which will be issued by the Indian Govt. and will be commonly termed as Aadhaar Number. It will be under the authority of UIDAI. In 2013 SC passed an interim order that the no citizen shall be forced to get registered Aadhaar by stating it mandatory. Aadhaar shall not be mandatory and the govt. should only avail it for the purpose of certain benefits.

In the year 2015 SC passed the judgment that Aadhaar can be used in various govt. schemes but this Aadhaar will be voluntary in nature and not mandatory. But still, this case was not solved completely and raised various questions. After 2 years, in the year 2017 Justice Deepak Misra formed a larger bench comprising 9 judges for this matter.

In the year 2018 finally, the judgment came in the favour of Aadhaar Act, stating that it does not violate any citizens right to privacy as it collects minimal information of the citizen which does not evolve to any infringement of fundamental rights.


AAROGYA SETU APP - PRIVACY CONCERNS

Recent act by the Government of India for health control by launching an app called Aarogya Setu has raised concerns regarding the right to privacy, which is now considered as a fundamental right. This app was launched specially to equip healthcare sector of India after the hit of COVID19 pandemic.

This App has raised concerns regarding privacy breach as it gives access to the government to have every individual location data and its demographic data if they have this app. This setu app is made mandatory for people to download in various platforms, such as, if they want to travel from one state to another they have to have this app in their mobile, the companies have also made it mandatory for its employees to have this app registered etc.

The Aarogya setu app does pass the test set by the Supreme Court in the case of K.S Puttaswamy, which makes it not illegal.

Plus, this app was made with the accordance of the Disaster Management Act, which gives power to the state and the central government in times of the disaster (here to be the COVID19 pandemic), to collect data to take necessary measures for prevention of that disaster.


GOVERNMENT OF INDIA - RECENT INITIATION REGARDING DATA PROTECTION/ PRIVACY

After realising the arising threats in relation to privacy in India and the landmark judgment of 2017, the government came to realise the fact there is a need for clear legislation governing the right to privacy in India. For this task, the Supreme court of India formed an expert committee, headed by Justice BN Srikrishna and told them to frame a draft regarding the law of privacy. In 2018 the committee drafted its final bill and named it as the Personal Data Protection Bill,2018 which the government introduced in the year 2019 and yet to be passed.

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