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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 June 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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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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M. Sameeha Barvin vs. The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Department of Sports, Government of India and Ors.

Autonomy

1 Judge

Case Details

Date of decision - 20.12.2021
Case Citation - (2022)1MLJ466
Case Type - Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provision - Article 14, 15 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
S. 3 of the The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
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Important Quote

"In the present case, if the respondents would have given effect to the principle of reasonable accommodation as mandated by the legislature, the reason cited forby not permitting the petitioner herein to travel along with her male counterparts, once again the government and the respondents have discriminated against her on the ground that she is a woman and that she also suffers the further cumulative and intersectional disadvantage of being disabled, and that on account of these factors, the justification seems to be that she is at the risk of being assaulted or unsafe, sexually or otherwise. In effect, this rationale is, what has been referred to in the above decisions as perpetuating the dangerous myth that women are seductive sexual objects. Analysing the said factors, it has been categorically held that it is the duty of the State to provide and ensure safety for women in a way so as to inspire confidence to discharge their duty freely in any profession of their choice. The same well applies to the case at hand."

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Notes

Women athletes with disabilities should be treated with the same respect and dignity as male athletes with disabilities. Consequently, such discrimination would perpetuate inequality and violate their right to personal liberty and autonomy. The State should take necessary steps in the field of sports to ensure the same.

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C.P Girija vs. Superintendent of Police & Ors

Surveillance, search and seizure

1 Judge

Case Details

Date of decision - 20.12.2021
Case Citation - MANU/TN/9939/2021
Case Type - Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provision - No legal provisions referenced
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Important Quote

"As far as the Chennai city is concerned, the Chennai Corporation has already issued a notification declaring the Spa and Massage centres as the public places and issued directives to install CCTV cameras in all such public places in order to ensure safety and security as well as to prevent any illegal activities. Similar declarations are to be made by the Corporations and Municipalities across the State of Tamil Nadu."

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Notes

Spas and Massage centres are public spaces and installing CCTV cameras in such places is important to ensure security and prevent illegal activties.

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Payel Biswas vs. The Commissioner of Police, Trichy City and Ors.

Surveillance, search and seizure

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision - 04.01.2022
Citation - 20221WritLR120
Case Type - Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - Article 19, 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950
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Important Quote

"Suspicion that immoral activities are taking place in massage centres cannot be reason enough to intrude into an individual's right to relax for it intrinsically is part and parcel of his fundamental right to privacy. Morality cannot be invoked as a mere incantation to justify such curtailment. This was also the essence of the landmark ""Section 377"" verdict of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in which it was held that in matters of one's private affairs, constitutional morality shall trump public morality."

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Notes

CCTV cameras cannot be installed inside spas on the mere suspicion of illegal and immoral activity.

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M.M.Nagar Sports & Recreation Centre vs. The Superintendent of Police And Ors

Surveillance, search and seizure

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 04.02.2022
Citation - MANU/TN/0689/2022
Case Type - Writ Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
S. 5 of The Public Gambling Act, 1867
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Important Quote

"Ours is a democratic society and every citizen and association of citizens has right of privacy. If that privacy is getting invaded indiscriminately, then there would be an end for all the democratic way of life and the rule of the law. However, under the guise of privacy, no citizen or association of persons can indulge in illegal or unlawful activities. At the same time, under the guise of suspicion, no police officer straightway walk into the place, make a raid and search without reason to believe that such place is used as gaming-house. For instance, gaming which includes wagering or betting to the extent it is defined in the Act, is forbidden by it. Simply, because a police officer thinks that some gaming is going on in a place, he cannot make a search of it. When a person's private life or his privacy is sought to be interfered with, it should be done with a sense of responsibility. That is why the search which is permitted under Section 5 is circumscribed by very many limitations and precautions, which are clearly intended to safeguard the interests of the citizen."

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Notes

Installing CCTV cameras in all areas of the club except for the washrooms on the suspicion of gambling would be a violation of the right to privacy of the members. Further, the police should not attempt to access the footages other than those required.

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The Deputy Superintendent of Police, "Q" Branch CID, Chennai vs. The Deputy Director Unique Identification Authority of India

Informational Privacy

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 21.04.2022
Citation - MANU/TN/3065/2022
Case Type - Criminal Original Petition
Case Status - Disposed
Legal Provisions - S. 2(n), 28, 29, 33, 33(1) of the Aadhaar (targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016
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Important Quote

"Furnishing of these details are not been prohibited by the Judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court rendered in Justice K.S.Puttaswamy and Another -vs- Union of India (UOI) and Others cited supra. It does not amount to disclosure of the privacy details of any individuals but to probe whether there is any such individualat all.."

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Notes

Furnishing of Aadhaar card details by the UIDAI to the Criminal Investigation Department for an investigation into its genuineness would not violate the right to privacy of Aadhaar holders.

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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.