Right to Privacy by Manjit Singh at Lexcliq

Right to Privacy

Right to privacy is a New Law in our country and it is very dynamic law. Human beings have a natural right to autonomy or control over confidential part of their lives and even after death, so they need privacy.

In the context of world, firstly originated and came* in existence in the United States of America, the Supreme Court of United States of America, for the first time, recognized the right to privacy in case of “ Griswold v Connecticut” (1965). The concept of privacy is described as rights to be let alone and right of each individual to determine under ordinary circumstances what his or her thoughts, sentiments, and emotions shall be when communicating with others.

In India, right to privacy is a part of Fundamental Rights under article 21 of the Indian constitution. But this happened after a landmark judgement in 2017, right to privacy, became a part of fundamental rights but it is not an absolute right. In the case of “ K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India” (2017) it was held that right to privacy is a fundamental right under article 14, 19 & 21 of Indian constitution. This judgement was given by nine judges bench, as per the bench where constitution is silent that does not mean that the constitution makers don’t want to make law on these things, but it is open and absolute that when the situation wants on that time it will be applied. Judgement of  K.S Puttaswamy overruled many judgement of Apex Court like, in the case of “M.P Sharma v. Satish Chandra (1954)”,  in this case court had held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right. The issue was that, there was an allegation on Dalmia Group that they were doing malpractice in their work, so police did an enquiry and searched in the office and house of the member who was related to the case. The defendant had alleged police that they were taking personal documents. But the court did not grant any decision related to Right to Privacy and state. The judgement read  right to privacy is not a fundamental right. Same thing happened in the case of “Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1962), in this, Kharak Singh was arrested in case of dacoity but due to no substantial evidence he was acquitted. This case was related to surveillance. In this, Uttar Pradesh police, for collecting the evidence, by using Uttar Pradesh Police Regulation, put surveillance on Kharak Singh. After facing all the problems, caused by surveillance, Kharak Singh filed a writ petition in which court held that Right of Privacy is not a fundamental right, but Domiciliary Visit which is part of the surveillance were deemed to be unconstitutional.

In the case of  “ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla (1976), The Apex Court refused to enforce the fundamental right, in emergency era. That became a black  day for the constitution of India. Later in the year 2017 in case of “K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017), Supreme court held that right to privacy is part of Article 21 (Fundamental Right).

Earlier Right to Privacy was only attached to property, meaning if somebody living in his house and performing or doing some personal work, then in that condition it would covered under right to privacy. But, with time and with the evolution of technology and democracy notion expanded; phone tapping and narco test, all these matters, the aggrieved party was covered under right the privacy. If we talk about phone tapping, in context of present day communication surveillance has been widely accepted as a necessary evil that every civilized society should allow for the security of the state as well as for prevention and investigation of crime, but we all know that telephonic conversation is essential part of human private life. Right to Privacy would certainly includes telephone-conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office. In Renowned case “PUCL (People’s union of civil liberty) v. Union of India (1997), which is famous by the name of “wire tapping case”, in this case, there was an allegation by the Former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar on the government, that his phone tapping along with 27 others politicians were tapped. The investigation was done by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in which enquiry team disclosed that government was tapping phone of these political leaders. So, PUCL (People’s union of civil liberty) filed a PIL in the Supreme court, to clarify the law related to the phone tapping to the public so that they will protect their right if any right is available within the law. In this, court stated that telephone conversation is a part of the Right to privacy and telephone tapping would, thus, infringe Article 21 of the Indian Constitution unless it is permitted under the procedure established by the law.

Right to Privacy is a part of Article 21 of Indian constitution but it is  not an absolute right because right of privacy is just a wide angle  dimension of the right to life and personal liberty, because as per the natural school of law right to life and liberty is a natural right. It means it is a divine law or right given by law and no one can snatch it, but when we talked about the right to privacy, it is just an evolution and differs case by case. As we  all know about the arrest warrant generated by the magistrate, which authorizes police to arrest someone, if we analyse the theory of generation of warrant by the magistrate, we can easily understand the privacy. In generation of arrest warrant, the permission is sought from judicial magistrate by police officer. Because of this law, police cannot, arbitrarily, arrest or harass anyone because of some rivalry or without any reason. If this happens, then it will violate privacy, so the constitution gives this power to the Judge to decide on this.


By Manjit Singh




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