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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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Madras High Court (Madurai Bench)

G. Vasanthi vs. Muneeshwaran

Autonomy, Bodily Integrity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 02.01.2019
Citation - (2019) 2 MLJ 498, MANU/TN/1008/2019
Case Type - Criminal Revision Petition (PD) (Madurai Bench)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
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Important Quote

"The contention with regard to violation of fundamental right cannot hold good in view of the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sharda vs. Dharmpal. The Hon'ble Supreme Court observed that where divorce is sought on grounds such as impotency, schizophrenia etc., normally without there being medical examination, it would be difficult to arrive at a conclusion as to whether the allegation made by one spouse against the other spouse seeking divorce on such a ground is correct or not. In order to substantiate such allegation, the petitioner would always insist on medical examination. If the respondent avoids such medical examination on the ground that it violates his/her right to privacy or for that matter to personal liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, then it may, in most of such cases become impossible to arrive at a conclusion. If the Court passes an appropriate order for medical examination, the question of such action being violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India would not arise. ... The nine Judges Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, unanimously held that right to privacy is a fundamental right, but left the conclusions set out in para 81 in Sharda vs. Dharmpal (supra), untouched."

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Notes

A court's order for medical examination is not violative of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

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Arunkumar and Ors. vs. The Inspector General of Registration and Ors.

Autonomy, Bodily Integrity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 22.04.2019
Citation - AIR 2019 Mad 265, MANU/TN/1403/2019
Case Type - Writ Petition (Madurai Bench)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
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Important Quote

"In the case on hand, the second petitioner herein has chosen to express her gender identity as that of a woman. As held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court this falls within the domain of her personal autonomy and involves her right to privacy and dignity. It is not for the State authorities to question this self determination."

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Notes

Right to express gender identity is a part of right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

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Rahmath Nisha vs. The Additional Director General of Prison and Ors.

Dignity

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 28.05.2019
Citation - 2019 CriLJ 4041, MANU/TN/3075/2019
Case Type - Writ Petition (Madurai Bench)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - S. 122 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
Rule 529 and 531 of Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983
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Important Quote

"Rule 531 (2)... which was introduced in the year 2000 will have to be read down in view of the recent rulings of the Hon'ble Supreme Court as set out earlier. Unless it is so read down, the right to dignity inhering in the prisoner and his spouse would certainly be infringed. ... While private prison cottages may be a distant prospect, the privacy and dignity of the prisoners should be scrupulously protected. Conversations between prisoner and his spouse should be unmonitored."

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Notes

Right to life, personal liberty includes right of convicts or jail inmates to have conjugal visits with privacy.

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Thirumagan and Ors. vs. The Superintendent of Police, Madurai District and Ors.

Surveillance, Search and Seizure

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision Date - 03.07.2020
Citation - 2020 (4) MLJ (Crl) 133, MANU/TN/3574/2020
Case Type - Writ Petition (Madurai Bench)
Case Status - Disposed.
Legal Provisions - Tamil Nadu Restriction of Habitual Offenders Act, 1948.
Chapter XLII of the Police Standing Orders
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Important Quote

"The need for effective policing (through history-sheeting), and, the arbitrary and malafide exercise of police power in history-sheeting (an individual), are conceptually different. Having stated that history sheeting has the potential to imperil the fundamental right of the person history-sheeted under Article 21, then in terms of Article 21, any limitation on the right to life could be attempted only as per the 'procedure established by law'. ... If prevention of crime is the central theme that provides a justification for history-sheeting, and if the decision to history sheet is only an administrative action, it then follows that whenever an administrative action forsakes fairness and ignores objectivity, arbitrariness invites itself to hold the action in contempt of the Constitutional doctrine of equality. Conversely, every action that violates the fundamental rights cherished under Part III of the Constitution, proprio vigore will be arbitrary."

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Notes

Judgment provides for guidelines to the police history-sheeting without violating the right to privacy.

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Karthick Theodre vs. The Registrar General, Madras High Court and Ors

Right to be Forgotten

1 Judge

Case Details

Decision date - 03.08.2021
Case citation - MANU/TN/5222/2021
Case type - Civil Misc. Writ Petition
Case status - Dismissed
Legal provisions - Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
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Important Quote

"This Court can act upon the request made by the petitioner only by placing reliance upon Article 21 of the Constitution of India. After the historic Judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Puttaswamy Vs. Union of India, the Right of Privacy has now been held to be a fundamental right, which is traceable to Article 21 of the Constitution of India. If the essence of this Judgment is applied to the case on hand, obviously even a person, who was accused of committing an offence and who has been subsequently acquitted from all charges will be entitled for redacting his name from the order passed by the Court in order to protect his Right of Privacy. This Court finds that there is a prima facie case made out by the petitioner and he is entitled for redacting his name from the Judgment passed by this Court in Crl.A. (MD). No. 321 of 2011." "It will be more appropriate to await the enactment of the Data Protection Act and Rules thereunder, which may provide an objective criterion while dealing with the plea of redaction of names of accused persons who are acquitted from criminal proceedings. If such uniform standards are not followed across the country, the constitutional courts will be riding an unruly horse which will prove to be counterproductive to the existing system."

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Notes

Publication of matters concerning an individual without their consent would violate their 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.