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Privacy High Court Tracker

Open Spreadsheet

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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Madras High Court

A. Venkatesan vs. The State Information Commissioner and Ors.

Informational Privacy, Right to Know and Access Information

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 01.06.2020
Citation - MANU/TN/3387/2020
Case Type - Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Sections 158(6), 160, 169 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 read with Rule 1 of Order XVI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
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Important Quote

"The right of access to the CCTNS portal has been thoughtfully restricted only to stakeholders (which undoubtedly includes the insurer) on payment of prescribed fee, and it cannot be carped that there is no provision for other intermeddlers, who are in no way connected with it, for using that facility, as it is likely to otherwise cause invasion of the privacy of the victims and the vehicle owners by misuse of their personal information."

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Notes

Special enactments may restrict access to certain information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 to protect the right to privacy of certain individuals.

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Sanjay Bhandari and Ors. vs. The Secretary of Govt. of India and Ors.

Search and Seizure, Surveillance, Phone Tapping

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 23.11.2020
Citation - MANU/TN/6319/2020
Case Type - Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1985
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Important Quote

"The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India held that telephonic tapping cannot happen unless specific criteria as mentioned in Section 5 (2) of Indian Telegraph Act are satisfied along with the criteria laid down in the case. The circumstances in which such permission can be granted is when there is a specific public emergency and the same related to some matter relating to sovereignty and the integrity of India; the security of the states; friendly relationship with foreign states; public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence. These steps laid down have been reaffirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case of K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd) and another Vs. Union of India and others reported in.The first respondent passed the orders for detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of corrupt activities of the petitioners herein in accordance with the provision under Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. Therefore, this Court finds no violation of Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act and also it would not amount to violation of the right to privacy"

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Notes

Phone tapping orders meant for detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal/corrupt activities do not amount to a violation of the right to privacy, if conducted within legal parameters.

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S. Sushma and Ors. vs. Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai Police and Ors.

Autonomy

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision date - 07.06.2021
Case citation - MANU/TN/3963/2021
Case type - Civil Misc. Writ Petition
Case status - Dismissed
Legal provisions - Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
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Important Quote

"Sexual autonomy is an essential aspect of the right of privacy which is another right recognised and protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. LGBTQIA+ persons, like cis persons, are entitled to their privacy and have a right to lead a dignified existence, which includes their choice of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender presentation, gender expression and choice of partner thereof. This right and the manner of its exercise are constitutionally protected under Article 21 of the Constitution." ""The 'grounds' enumerated in Article 15 of the Constitution are not water-tight compartments to be viewed divorced from discrimination which is the sheet anchor of the provision. The grounds are merely instruments to find and eliminate discrimination and are, therefore, a means to an end. Discrimination is not a self-referencing concept. A meaningful attempt to identify and eliminate discrimination must necessarily involve the identification and protection of the constitutional values of personal autonomy, dignity, liberty and privacy.""

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Notes

This case prohibited the use of conversion therapy against LGBTQIA+ persons.

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Raptakos Brett and Co. Ltd. v. Raptakos Brett Employees Union and Ors.

Dignity

1 Judge

Case Details

"Decision date - 13.08.2021
Citation - MANU/TN/5584/2021
Case type - Civil Writ Appeal
Case status - Dismissed
Legal provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950; Sections 9-A and 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947."
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Important Quote

In the judgment of the Hon'ble Apex Court in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India (supra), Hon'ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul (in his separate opinion) recognizing the breach of privacy committed by private individuals/private entities/non- State actors, called upon the legislature to legislate on this issue and ensure privacy of individuals against other citizens as well.

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Notes

Installation of CCTV cameras in the changing area and the restroom would amount to a breach of 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.