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Privacy High Court Tracker

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The CCG Privacy High Court Tracker is a resource consisting of decisions on the constitutional right to privacy passed by all High Courts in India. The Privacy High Court Tracker captures cases post the pronouncement of the Justice (Retd.) K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India (Puttaswamy) judgment. In Puttaswamy, the Supreme Court of India reaffirmed the existence of the right to privacy in India’s Constitution as a fundamental right. 

The Privacy High Court Tracker is a tool to enable lawyers, judges, policymakers, legislators, civil society organisations, academic and policy researchers and other relevant stakeholders, to engage with, understand and analyse the evolving privacy law and jurisprudence across India. The cases deal with the following aspects of privacy (1) autonomy, (2) bodily integrity, (3) data protection, (4) dignity, (5) informational privacy, (6) phone tapping, (7) press freedom, (8) right to know and access information, and (9) surveillance, search and seizure. 

The tracker currently only consists of cases reported on Manupatra, and those reported upto 15 September 2022 (CCG will continue to update the tracker periodically). Only final judgements are included in the tracker, and not interim orders of the High Courts. 

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Delhi High Court

Sangamitra Acharya and Ors. vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and Ors.

Dignity || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 18.04.2018
Citation - 250 (2018) DLT 36, MANU/DE/1453/2018
Case Type - Writ Petition (Crl.)
Case Status - Disposed. Some SLP disposed of, some SLP pending.
Legal Provisions - S.19 of Mental Health Act, 1987
View Case

Important Quote

"Protection against an attack on the right of life, liberty, privacy and dignity can be exercised not only against the State but also against non-State actors. .... The horizontal dimension of these rights enables an aggrieved person to invoke constitutional remedies to seek the protection and enforcement of such rights against invasion by a non-state actor."

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Notes

Protection against an attack on right of life, liberty, privacy and dignity can be sought against non-State actors.

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Ravinder vs. Govt of NCT of Delhi and Ors.

Autonomy, Dignity || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 26.04.2018
Citation - 2018 (171) DRJ 346, MANU/DE/1548/2018
Case Type - Writ Petition (Crl.)
Case Status - Disposed. SLP Pending.
Legal Provisions - S. 23, 24 and 28 of Mental Health Act, 1987
View Case

Important Quote

"It is time to abandon the earlier approach of using the mental health law to control or punish people whose behaviour is unacceptable but to view it as an instrument that facilitates care and treatment of the mentally ill in need of it, consistent with their rights to life, liberty, dignity, privacy and autonomy. The indiscriminate use of the mental health law has to stop. It is high time that we dismantled the penal custodial model of the mental health law."

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Notes

This case discusses the consequence of admission to mental health institution on life, liberty, privacy, freedom and dignity.

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Prime Minister's National Relief Fund vs. Aseem Takyar

Informational Privacy, Right to Know and Access Information || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 23.05.2018
Citation - MANU/DE/1960/2018
Case Type - Letter Patents Appeal (LPA)
Case Status - Disposed by Diviosn Bench. Referred to a third judge on account of divergence of opinions.
Legal Provisions - S. 8(1)(e) and (j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005
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Important Quote

"Once something becomes a matter of 'public record', the right of privacy ceases to exist."

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Notes

Once something becomes a matter of 'public record', the right of privacy ceases to exist.

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Swami Ramdev vs. Juggernaut Books Pvt. Ltd. and Ors.

Dignity, Informational Privacy || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 29.09.2018
Citation - MANU/DE/3565/2018
Case Type - Civil Misc. (Main)
Case Status - Disposed. SLP Pending.
Legal Provisions - S. 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Article 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
View Case

Important Quote

""Reputation" of one cannot be allowed to be crucified at the altar of the other's right of free speech. ... whatever may be of the interest to the public but has no element of public interest may amount to breach of privacy and an individual thus has a right to protection to protect his reputation from being unfairly harmed in relation thereto not only against false truth but also certain truths."

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Notes

The judgment discusses the right to privacy in publication of unauthorised biographies. Right to privacy includes the right to reputation and must be balanced with other rights.

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Horlicks Ltd and Ors. vs. Heinz India Pvt. Ltd.

Informational Privacy || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 17.12.2018
Citation - 256 (2019) DLT 468, MANU/DE/4628/2018
Case Type - Civil Suit (Commercial)
Case Status - Disposed. Appeal pending before DB.
Legal Provisions - Chapter IV of Advertising Standards Council of India Code.
Article 19(1)(a), 19(2) and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
View Case

Important Quote

"The right of a person to claim privacy ... includes rights in relation to commercial use of identity of such person. However, the right to privacy cannot be asserted against information that is already in the public domain."

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Notes

The right to privacy cannot be claimed over information already available in the public domain.

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Sunil Sachdeva vs. Owner of domain name crj7.com and Ors.

Dignity || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 13.11.2019
Citation -2019 (178) DRJ 246, MANU/DE/3836/2019
Case Type - Civil Suit (OS)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
View Case

Important Quote

"The fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of defamation." "No relief of restraining public at large from publishing, circulating the allegedly defamatory content can be granted in general and no relief with respect to similar content also, without adjudicating whether there is any similarity or not, can be granted."

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Notes

The judgment discusses the contours of the right to privacy against defamatory online posts.

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Sasikala Pushpa vs. Facebook India and Ors.

Informational Privacy, Data Protection || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 02.06.2020
Citation - MANU/DE/1143/2020
Case Type - Civil Suit (OS)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 66A, 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Rule 3 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011
View Case

Important Quote

"This Court is required to balance the right claimed by the plaintiff of privacy qua whom she meets at her residence, has to be balanced with the right of the public to know the identity of the person whom the plaintiff meets and hobnobs with, behind closed doors."

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Notes

The judgment discusses the right to privacy in re photograph/video/audio messages. Right to privacy must be balanced with the right to know in cases of public interest.

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Deepti Kapur vs. Kunal Julka

Search and Seizure, Surveillance, Phone Tapping || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 30.06.2020
Citation - AIR 2020 Delhi 156, MANU/DE/1314/2020
Case Type - Civil Misc. (Main)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 14, 20 of Family Courts Act, 1984.
S. 5, 7, 8 and 65B of Indian Evidence Act, 1872
View Case

Important Quote

"Merely because rules of evidence favour a liberal approach for admitting evidence in court in aid of dispensation of justice, this should not be taken as approval for everyone to adopt any illegal means to collect evidence, especially in relationships of confidence such as marriage. If the right to adduce evidence collected by surreptitious means in a marital or family relationship is available without any qualification or consequences, it could potentially create havoc in people's personal and family lives and thereby in the society at large."

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Notes

This judgment examines the admissibility of evidence collected in breach of privacy.

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Krishna Kishore Singh vs. Sarla A. Saraogi and Ors

Dignity, Autonomy || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision date - 10.06.2021
Citation - CS(COMM) 187/2021; MANU/DE/1056/2021
Case type - Civil Writ Jurisdiction
Case status - Disposed
Legal provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
View Case

Important Quote

"On this aspect, we must also note that in Puttaswamy (supra), wherein the right to privacy was declared to be a fundamental right on the anvil of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court has reflected upon personality rights also, and observed that: ""58. Every individual should have a right to be able to exercise control over his/her own life and image as portrayed to the world and to control commercial use of his/her identity. This also means that an individual may be permitted to prevent others from using his image, name and other aspects of his/her personal life and identity for commercial purposes without his/her consent."""

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Notes

Right to publicity or celebrity rights rests with that specific individual, and such rights cannot be enforced posthumously.

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X vs. Union of India and Ors

Dignity, Bodily Integrity || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision date - 20.04.2021
Citation - 280 (2021) DLT 57, MANU/DE/0767/2021
Case type - Criminal Misc. Writ Petition
Case status - Disposed
Legal provisions - S. 67, 67A, 67B, 67C, 75, 79, 81 and 85 of the Information Technology Act, 2000
View Case

Important Quote

"That apart, the inclusion of the name and/or likeness of a person on such website, even if the photograph of the person is not in itself obscene or offensive, without consent or concurrence, would at the very least amount to breach of the person's privacy, which a court may, in appropriate cases, injunct or restrain."

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Notes

The action of taking a person's photographs and posting them to another website without their consent is violative of a persons privacy.

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Dr. Sitanshi Sharma vs. Vandana Sharma and Ors

Informational Privacy, Phone Tapping || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 20.09.2021
Citation - MANU/DE/2470/2021
Case Type - Civil Misc. (Main)
Case Status - Dismissed
Legal Provisions - S. 26 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. S. 65B in The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
View Case

Important Quote

"Therefore, the Trial Court has rightly observed that the application filed by the petitioner is in the nature of a roving inquiry, which is not warranted in the present case. In the considered view of this Court, even if the contention of the petitioner is accepted that she is not seeking access to the said CDR through production thereof and the same are only for perusal of the Court at the time of trial, this would still amount to invasion of privacy of the respondent No. 3."

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Notes

The court held that Call Detail Records (CDR) which were collected/requested in contradiction to the Evidence Act, could not be preserved in response to the petitioners' roving query, as this would amount to a violation of the respondents' privacy.

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Sandeep Aggarwal vs. Priyanka Aggarwal

Bodily Integrity, Autonomy || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 24.12.2021
Case Citation - (2022) 286 DLT 39 (DB)
Case Type - Matrimonial Appeals
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - Article 20, 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
S. 12, 28 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. S. 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
View Case

Important Quote

"The prime concern of the Court is to find out as to whether a person who is said to be mentally ill could defend himself properly or not. Determination of such an issue although may have some relevance with the determination of the issue in the lis, nonetheless, the Court cannot be said to be wholly powerless in this behalf. Furthermore, it is one thing to say that a person would be subjected to test which would invade his right of privacy and may in some case amount to battery; but it is another thing to say that a party may be asked to submit himself to a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst so as to enable the Court to arrive at a just conclusion."

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Notes

A court order directing a medical evaluation of one of the parties to a marriage in a prima facie case of unsoundness of mind, mental disorder or insanity, under the Hindu Marriage Act would not be considered an invasion of privacy.

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Shahrukh vs. The State NCT of Delhi

Surveillance, Search and Seizure || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 22.03.2022
Citation - MANU/DE/0915/2022
Case Type - Criminal Misc. Case
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - Article 142, 20(3) of the Constitution of India, 1950. S. 120B, 34, 364A, 368 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. S. 173(8) of CrPC, 1973
View Case

Important Quote

"Further, in Ritesh Sinha it is rather stated fundamental right to privacy cannot be considered to be as absolute and but must bow down to compelling public interest. Thus, there appear to be no doubt upon the power of the learned Trial Court to allow an application seeking permission to get the voice sample of accused."

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Notes

When there is a compelling public interest, collecting voice samples of accused persons does not violate their right to privacy.

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RIT Foundation and Ors. vs. The Union of India and Ors

Bodily Integrity, Dignity || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 11.05.2022
Citation - MANU/DE/1638/2022
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - Article 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950. Exception 2, S. 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
View Case

Important Quote

"There is a sui generis entitlement, of the marital sphere, to its own privacy. This cannot be compromised. The contention of the petitioners that the impugned Exception unconstitutionally accords preference, to the privacy of the marital institution, over the privacy of the individuals involved (particularly the wife) does not, I am constrained to say, make sense, as the impugned Exception does not compromise, in any manner, with the "privacy of the individuals involved". It, on the other hand, advises against unwarranted judicial, or executive, incursions into the privacy of the marital bedroom and, in doing so, cannot, in my view, be regarded as sanctioning an unconstitutional dispensation."

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Notes

The court delivered a split verdict on the issue of constitutionality of the Marital Rape Exception (MRE) under the Indian Penal Code. The opinions differed over the status of consent and the potential violation of the autonomy of women in regards to MRE.

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Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh Delhi vs. Comissioner Food And Supplies Govt of NCT of Delhi

Dignity || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 19.05.2022
Citation - MANU/DE/1759/2022
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - Article 21, 47 of the Constitution of India, 1950. S.12 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955
View Case

Important Quote

"In our view, it is only civil that persons – who desire to obtain/ buy anything from an outlet, should queue up, if such a queue is necessary looking to the number of persons, who may land up at the outlet at the same time. It does not offend the right to dignity and privacy of any person, merely because the person may be required to queue up at the outlet. The outlet could be for anything, or for any service."

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Notes

Compelling beneficiaries under the Targeted Public Distribution System to stand in a queue at fair price shops, to receive their allocated services does not violate their right to privacy and dignity.

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X vs. Government of NCT of Delhi and Ors.

Bodily Integrity, Autonomy || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 19.07.2022
Citation- MANU/DE/2894/2022
Case Type - Civil Misc. Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution Of India, 1950. S. 376 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC). S.3, 3(2) of the Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Act, 1971
View Case

Important Quote

"Undisputedly, the petitioner is a victim of rape. She is stated to be about 13 to 17 years old. The assault on her person and the defilement of her body would have undoubtedly left scars which would take years to heal. Her misery and suffering would stand compounded even more if she were forced to bear the mantle of motherhood at such a tender age. The Court shudders to even imagine the state of despondency that would descend over her life. The mental and physical trauma that she would have to undergo if she were forced to carry the foetus and take on the onerous duties of motherhood is unimaginable. This Court is of the firm opinion that if the petitioner was forced to go through with the pregnancy despite the same having been caused on account of the incident of sexual assault, it would permanently scar her psyche and cause grave and irreparable injury to her mental health. The Court cannot visualize a more egregious invasion of her right to life as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution."

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Notes

A minor rape survivor can be allowed to terminate a pregnancy at 28 weeks to uphold her right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

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T.V. Today Network Limited vs. News Laundry Media Private Limited and Ors.

Press Freedom, Dignity || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 29.07.2022
Citation- MANU/DE/2679/2022
Case Type - Civil Misc. Writ Petition
Case Status - Dismissed
Legal provisions - Article 19(1), 19(2), 21 Constitution Of India, 1950. S.13, 14, 37, 37(2), 37(3), 39, 52, 52(1), 499, 500 of the Copyright Act, 1957. S. 2(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000
View Case

Important Quote

"As observed by the Supreme Court in Subramanium Swamy (supra) reputation is an integral part of the dignity of an individual and if reputation is damaged, society as well as the individual would be the loser. The old Bonnard Principle which set the high thresh-hold for grant of injunction restraining publications on the ground of defamation and harm to the reputation, has been watered-down by the courts, as noticed above. The right to free speech is an important right, but reputation is an equally important right. The courts, over a period of time, have pronounced that reputation is an internal and central facet of right to life, as protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. Thus, a balance would have to be struck between the two rights, one under Article 19(1)(a) and the other under Article 21 of the Constitution."

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Notes

The freedom to express an opinion or to comment on content on social media or the TV through satire is a facet of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression insofar as it does not violate the right to privacy or reputation of an individual.

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Sunil Kumar vs. State of UT of Chandigarh

Surveillance, Search and Seizure || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 05.08.2022
Citation - MANU/DE/2825/2022
Case Type - Criminal Misc. Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal provisions - S.160, 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Article 142, 20(3) of the Constitution Of India, 1950
View Case

Important Quote

"A Full Bench of the Supreme Court in Ritesh Sinha (supra) has re- affirmed that a judicial order compelling a person to give a sample of his voice did not violate his Fundamental Right to Privacy, including under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. It also held that a Judicial Magistrate must be conceded the powers to order a person to give a sample of his voice for the purposes of investigation of a crime, and ordered the vesting of such a power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India."

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Notes

A judicial order compelling individuals to provide a voice sample does not violate their right to privacy. Collecting voice samples for the purpose of investigation would be valid even if it is collected after the charge sheet has been filed.

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WhatsApp LLC vs. Competition Commission of India and Ors.

Data Protection, Informational Privacy || Delhi High Court

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 25.08.2022
Citation- MANU/DE/3093/2022
Case Type - Latter Patent Appeal and Civil Misc. Appeal
Case Status - Dismissed
Legal provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution Of India, 1950. Information Technology (reasonable Security Practices And Procedures And Sensitive Personal Data Or Information) Rules, 2011 - Rule 5(7). S. 3, 4, 18, 19, 21, 26, 27, 28, 53, 57, 62 of the Competition Act, 2002
View Case

Important Quote

"The 2021 Policy, however, places its users in a “take-it-or-leave-it” situation, virtually forcing its users into agreement by providing a mirage of choice, and then sharing their sensitive data with Facebook Companies envisaged in the policy."

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Notes

WhatsApp's privacy policy, which allows it to share user information with Facebook could invoke violation of privacy rights since it leaves users in a 'take it or leave it' situation forcing them into an agreement without any voluntary or specific user consent.

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Neetu Singh and Anr. vs. Telegram FZ LLC & Ors.

Informational Privacy || Delhi High Court

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 30. 08. 2022
Citation- MANU/DE/3170/2022
Case Type - Civil Suit (Commercial)
Case Status - Disposed
Legal provisions - Section 72 A, 79, 81 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. S. 62, 63, 65 of the Copyright Act, 1957
View Case

Important Quote

"As per the above extract from K.S. Puttaswamy (supra) it is clear that the Supreme Court recognises that if there is a law in existence to justify the disclosure of information and there is a need for the disclosure considering the nature of encroachment of the right then privacy cannot be a ground to justify non-disclosure, so long as the same is not disproportionate. In India, the Copyright Act is clearly a law, which requires “infringing copies” to be taken into custody. The Copyright Act recognizes the right of the copyright owner to claim damages and rendition of accounts in respect of such infringement. Secondly, whenever the data is sought for a legitimate purpose, and for curbing the violation of law, including infringement of copyright, the same would be in accordance with the legal position recognised in K.S. Puttaswamy (supra)."

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Notes

The right to privacy cannot be used as a ground to justify the non-disclosure of user data in a copyright infringement case.

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Methodology

The Privacy High Court Tracker has been developed using judgements pulled from the Manupatra case law database. Through its search function, CCG identified cases that relied upon the Puttaswamy judgment and were pertaining to the right to privacy, and filtered them by each of the 25 High Courts in India. These were then further examined to identify those cases whose decisions concerned a core aspect of privacy. CCG identified the following aspects of privacy (1) autonomy, (2) bodily integrity, (3) data protection, (4) dignity, (5) informational privacy, (6) phone tapping, (7) press freedom, (8) right to know and access information, and (9) surveillance, search and seizure. Cases where only incidental or passing observations or references were made to Puttaswamy and the right to privacy were not included in the tracker. The selected cases were then compiled into the database per High Court, with several details highlighted for ease of reference. These details consist of case name, decision date, case citation and number, case status, legal provisions involved, and bench strength. The tracker also includes select quotes concerning the right to privacy from each case, to assist users to more easily and quickly grasp the crux of the case. 

For ease of access to the text of the judgments, each case on our tracker is linked to the Indian Kanoon version of the judgment (wherever available) or an alternative open-access version of the judgment text.

We welcome your feedback. In addition, you may write to us at - ccg@nludelhi.ac.in with the details of any privacy case we may not have included from any High Court in India.