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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 May 2021 (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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Kerala High Court

Mini K.T. vs. Senior Divisional Manager (Disciplinary Authority), Life Insurance Corporation of India and Ors.

Dignity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 21.12.2017
Citation - ILR 2018 (1) Kerala 355, MANU/KE/1919/2017
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - Articles 14, 15, 16, 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
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Important Quote

"In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy's case (supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court while adverting to the privacy of individual observed that privacy is an essential aspect of dignity. ... To understand the dignity of a woman, the societal background has to be considered. ... No action is possible against a woman employee for her absence from duty on account of compelling circumstances for taking care of her child. No service regulations can stand in the way of a woman for claiming protection of her fundamental right of dignity as a mother. ... motherhood is an inherent dignity of woman, which cannot be compromised."

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Notes

No action is possible against a woman employee for her absence from duty on account of compelling circumstances for taking care of her child. Privacy is an essential aspect of dignity of women as mothers.

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Oommen Chandy vs. State of Kerala and Ors.

Dignity, Informational Privacy

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 15.05.2018
Citation - ILR 2018 (2) Kerala 732, MANU/KE/1039/2018
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 8B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952
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Important Quote

"On account of its nature as a right that is personal to an individual, I am of the view that the newly recognised fundamental right to privacy, which takes within its fold the right to protection of ones reputation as well, would merit classification as a fundamental right that protects an individual, not only against arbitrary State action, but also against the actions of other private citizens, such as the press or media."

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Notes

Incorporation of the contents of a letter produced before the Inquiry Commission, containing sexual allegations against a party, making it vulnerable to a discussion by the public and the media amounts to infringement of the right to privacy.

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C.S. Chacko vs. Union of India and Ors.

Autonomy, Informational Privacy

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 02.08.2018
Citation - AIR 2018 Ker 166, MANU/KE/1957/2018
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, 1950
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Important Quote

"Our Constitution, through its preamble, proclaims liberty of thought, action, belief, faith and worship as cherished concepts, that are guaranteed to all persons through Articles 25 and 26 thereof. It is through the exercise of these very liberties, that the petitioner chose to be a member of the 6th respondent Church, or to continue to be one. His actions were also in accordance with the exercise of his fundamental right to choose the religion that he wanted to adopt. Having done so, he cannot be heard to say that his continuance as a member of the Church is on account of any compulsion that is imposed on him."

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Notes

Practice of compulsory confession amongst Orthodox Syrian Christians not violative of right to privacy.

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Gopalakrishnan P. vs. State of Kerala

Informational Privacy, Dignity, Data Protection

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 14.08.2018
Citation - 2018 (4) KLT 1159, MANU/KE/2817/2018
Case Type - Criminal Misc. (Main)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 173 and 207 of CrPC, 1973
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Important Quote

"In the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Another vs. Union of India and Others, the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court had held that the fundamental rights emanate from basic notions of liberty and dignity and the enumeration of some facets of liberty as distinctly protected rights under Article 19 does not denude Article 21 of its expansive ambit. It was held that, validity of a law which infringes the fundamental rights has to be tested not with reference to the object of state action, but on the basis of its effect on the guarantees of freedom... When there is a conflict between Fundamental Rights of a person and statutory rights of another person, Fundamental Rights will prevail."

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Notes

Furnishing copy of memory card to accused is a serious transgression into the right to privacy of victim of sexual abuse.

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The Cochin Institute of Science and Technology vs. Jisin Jijo and Ors.

Autonomy

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 04.06.2019
Citation - ILR 2019 (2) Kerala 796, MANU/KE/2179/2019
Case Type - Writ Appeal
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
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Important Quote

"In K.S. Puttaswamy and Another vs. Union of India and Others, reported in the Supreme Court found that the focus of the guarantee of fundamental rights was the individual and that the fundamental right to life envisaged under Article 21 was a right to a life with dignity. The right of a person to individual autonomy in matters of personal choice and preferences was seen as integral to his dignity and thereby his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution."

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Notes

The freedom to choose the college of his/her choice for pursuit of studies is a facet of fundamental right to privacy.

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State of Kerala and Ors. vs. Shyam Balakrishnan and Ors.

Surveillance, Search and Seizure

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 08.07.2019
Citation - ILR 2019 (3) Kerala 466, MANU/KE/2603/2019
Case Type - Writ Appeal
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 149 of CrPC, 1973
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Important Quote

"In the exercise of its powers of judicial review under Article 226 of our Constitution, while acting as a sentinel on the qui vive to protect the fundamental rights of our citizens, this Court exercises a primary review over State action with an emphasis on the doctrine of proportionality. A charge that State action has violated the fundamental right of a citizen calls for a heightened scrutiny of the said action by the Constitutional Courts to determine whether the action of the State in restricting the liberty of the citizen was strictly required by the exigencies of the situation. ... A good end does not justify a bad means more so when the means adopted are such that violate the personal freedom and privacy of individuals."

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Notes

The action of the police authorities in detaining and interrogating a person and thereafter searching his residence, without following due procedure is violative of the right to privacy.

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Raju Sebastian and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors.

Informational Privacy, Data Protection

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 04.09.2019
Citation - AIR 2020 Ker 3, MANU/KE/3533/2019
Case Type - Writ Appeal
Case Status - Disposed. Judgment of the Single Judge in Nana Auto Fuels and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors. MANU/KE/2762/2018 overruled..
Legal Provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
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Important Quote

"Privacy attaches to the person and not the place where the information is kept. The right to privacy is not lost as a result of confidential information being parted with by the customer to the custody of the bank. ... Any information which discloses remittances made to the Income Tax Department towards discharge of tax liability would constitute personal information. A demand for furnishing income tax returns filed by a person would constitute invasion of the privacy of a person."

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Notes

A demand for furnishing income tax returns filed by a person would constitute invasion of the privacy of a person.

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Faheema Shirin R.K. vs. State of Kerala and Ors.

Autonomy, Right to Know and Access Information

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 19. 09. 2019
Citation - AIR 2020 Ker 35, MANU/KE/3799/2019
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
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Important Quote

"The right to have access to Internet becomes the part of right to education as well as right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."

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Notes

The right of a student to have access to internet is also part of the right to privacy.

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Vilasini and Ors. vs. State of Kerala and Ors.

Dignity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 14.02.2020
Citation - 2020 (4) KLT 863, MANU/KE/0546/2020
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - Rule 7, Kerala Abkari Shops Disposal Rules, 2002
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Important Quote

"The task of the constitutional court while determining the issue related to privacy falls on factual criteria to classify the action complained. This task essentially is a fact finding. ... violation of privacy must have an immutable character available to the group or collective. ... In a challenge based on infringement of privacy, the first task upon the constitutional court is to classify the nature of the action complained. On the classification of such action, the Court has to find out whether such action complained is sufficient to harm the citizen from enjoying his life with dignity or amenities which he was enjoying before the action complained ... Privacy rights cannot be recognized to promote the individual interest to deny the rights of others. ... No toddy shop shall be located in a residential area infringing the right of privacy of the individual to have respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence as referred in Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights. ... No new licence or renewal shall be granted to toddy shops in a residential area without assessing privacy rights impact."

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Notes

Lays down the 'Threshold Severity Test' for impact on privacy rights. Privacy impact assessment must be made by the State before grant or renewal of licence to toddy shop in residential areas.

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Neethu Narendran vs. State of Kerala

Autonomy, Bodily Integrity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 30.04.2020
Citation - 2020 (3) KLT 155, MANU/KE/1771/2020
Case Type - Writ Petition (Civil)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 3 of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
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Important Quote

"In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court has approved the constitutional right of a woman to make reproductive choices as part of her personal liberty under Art. 21 of the Constitution of India. Their Lordships went further and expanded the doctrine of right to privacy to even include the right of a woman to enjoy or not to enjoy motherhood. The concept of a woman having autonomy of the body and mind which includes the ability to make decisions on vital matters of concern to her life have been elevated to the status of her right to privacy."

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Notes

Women's autonomy of body and mind is part of right to privacy.

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X vs. S

Informational Privacy

2 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 18.09.2020
Citation - MANU/KE/3082/2020
Case Type - Original Petition (Family Court)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - The Code of Medical Ethics formulated by the Indian Medical Council as per the provisions of S. 20A of the Indian Medical Council Act as amended in 1964.
S. 23 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
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Important Quote

"When a court of law orders production of records relating to an individual, it cannot be regarded as an intrusion into the right to privacy of that individual for then it will fall under the expression "except by procedure established by law" of Article 21. ... Before ordering the production of treatment records of a mentally ill person, court must apply its mind judicially and ascertain whether the documents sought for have a material bearing on the case. If it is found that the documents relating to the treatment records of a mentally ill person has a material bearing on the case, the court must then consider whether non production will cause prejudice to the person seeking production. If answers to both the aforesaid questions are in the affirmative only then will the court be justified in ordering production of treatment records of a mentally ill person."

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Notes

When the power is exercised by a Court of law calling for medical records of an individual, the same cannot be regarded as an intrusion into the right to privacy.

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Xxxxx vs. State of Kerala

Autonomy, Dignity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision date - 13.08.2021
Case citation - MANU/KE/1845/2021
Case type - Civil Misc. Writ Petition
Case status - Writ petition allowed
Legal provisions - Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950; Sections 8(1) and 16 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1969.
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Important Quote

"In Puttaswamy's case (supra), it was held that ... one of the connotations of “privacy” includes decisional autonomy which comprehends intimate personal choices such as, those governing reproduction as well as choice expressed in public such as, faith or modes of dress."

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Notes

Requirement to provide the name of the sperm donor violates the mother's right to privacy.

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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.