Rights to Privacy in India by Krishna Sreeja @lexcliq

Just imagine a situation, where you were chatting with your friend in your casual tone and if your spouse or your sibling peeps into it, can you feel comfortable…  May be not. Then imagine another Situation, where you were filling your bank details for any online payment, and now your neighbour Or friend peeps into it. Now keep the matter of comfortability aside, this time, can you atleast feel secured about your deposits in bank. This time, absolutely NO. What we need in the above circumstances and in some other Situations of this kind is  “Privacy”.

There are certain details about ourselves that shoudn’t get accessed by others. That information includes, our Aadhar numbers as all bank details and everything is linked to this number, Our contacts in the phone as these are private matters and also access to our mobile phones. Now, here arises a doubt that these all restrictions are based on the moral/ ethical principles or is there any law to protect the privacy  of the people. Article 21 of the Indian Constitutes states that, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.

From the article 21, it can be interpreted  that right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty.

Right to privacy refers to a legal framework that provides individuals a legal right to protect their or their data’s privacy.

In 2012, Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retired) filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Aadhaar on the grounds that it violates the right to privacy. During the hearings, the Central government opposed the classification of privacy as a fundamental right. The government’s opposition to the right relied on two early decisions—MP Sharma vs Satish Chandra in 1954, and Kharak Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh in 1962—which had held that privacy was not a fundamental right.

In M.P Sharma, the bench held that the drafters of the Constitution did not intend to subject the power of search and seizure to a fundamental right of privacy. They argued that the Indian Constitution does not include any language similar to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, and therefore, questioned the existence of a protected right to privacy. The Supreme Court made clear that M.P Sharma did not decide other questions, such as “whether a constitutional right to privacy is protected by other provisions contained in the fundamental rights including among them, the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.”

In Kharak Singh, the decision invalidated a Police Regulation that provided for nightly domiciliary visits, calling them an “unauthorised intrusion into a person’s home and a violation of ordered liberty.” However, it also upheld other clauses of the Regulation on the ground that the right of privacy was not guaranteed under the Constitution, and hence Article 21 of the Indian Constitution (the right to life and personal liberty) had no application. Justice Subbarao’s dissenting opinion clarified that, although the right to privacy was not expressly recognized as a fundamental right, it was an essential ingredient of personal liberty under Article 21.

Once after the recognition of right to privacy under Article 21 as a fundamental right, it will be enough to encroach into any sphere of activity. With the advancement of technology and the social networking sites the intrusion of such a right has become extremely difficult. The extent to which privacy matters in individuals is subjective and differs from person to person. Section 43 of The Information Technology Act, 2000 also includes Right to Privacy which makes unauthorized access into a computer resource as an offence.

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