Right to Privacy

This article is written by Kuwar Digvijay Singh, a student of 2nd year of B.A.LLB. studying at Lovely Professional University, Phagwara. In this article, The Right to Privacy is depicted, along with preventing and reducing it and many other related incidents.

Introduction

It is quite interesting and the most cherished right, The Right to Privacy, though being poles apart, and contradictory and antagonistic and complementary in the Indian Legal System.

This right is very essential rights for the survival of a human being in the rapidly advancing, modern and technical world – where the protection of an individual’s privacy and security is becoming a matter of concern. Though not explicitly mentioned under the Constitution of India, it was through various judgements of the supreme court, held that the rights are a part of the fundamental rights- wherein, The Right to Privacy holds a position under the provision, which is also known as the Heart of the Indian Constitution – Article 21 ‘Right  To Life’.

The privacy of the individual is being increasingly challenged by new technologies and trends in society. For a biological person, the protection of the Right to Privacy is available under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The right to Privacy is not absolute. This right can be regulated, and curtailed in the larger public interest.

What is Privacy?

“Privacy”, in a general sense, means, “the quality or state of being apart from company or observation” or “freedom from unauthorised intrusion”. Privacy is a boundary wall, that a person makes in his life, beyond which, he does not wish for other people to interfere. Privacy enables a person to create barriers and manage boundaries to protect himself from unwarranted interference in his life, which allows him to understand who he is and how he wants to interact with the world surrounding him. Privacy helps a person establish boundaries to limit who has access to his body, place and things related to him, as well as his communications and information. Privacy of a person may include his day-to-day activities, his personal information, and private things, and hence, sensitive to him. Privacy, basically means, “the right to be let alone” or “the option to limit the access others have to one’s personal information”. Privacy is an important way, in which one seeks to protect himself and society, against the arbitrary and unjustified use of power, by limiting what can be known about him and done to him, by another person, while protecting him from others who may wish to exert control.

What is The Right to Privacy?

The Right to privacy is an aspect of human dignity. Privacy helps an individual protect his individuality, or what is his personal and can be distinguished from what is not and can be accessed. People describe themselves by exercising power over information that is about them and a free country does not ask its people to answer for the choices they make about what information they choose to share and what they choose to keep undisclosed. At the same time, this does not mean that public policies cost people their individuality, and their choices, on the pretext of protecting them.

The Right to Privacy is not an explicit right given under the Constitution of India, 1950, but rather, it is a right which is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, reads, “No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty, except by the procedure established by law”. This Article under the Constitution of India, also known as the heart of the Indian Constitution, within its wide ambit, covers the Right to Privacy as well. The Right to Privacy is a universal concept and can be very well found under various International Laws as well as covenants. Every individual maintains a private life and the right to privacy aims at identifying and conferring the right of a person to be left alone and create his own private space, which is free from the intervention of a third person. For example, Article 12 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence or to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.”

Case Laws

In the case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India And Ors., the Supreme Court of India, which held that the right to privacy is protected as a fundamental constitutional right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The nine-judge bench in this case, unanimously held that “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution34”. The bench further stated in this case that privacy has two roles: normative and descriptive. Privacy in the normative sense affiliates with moral principles, eternal values and essentials of human dignity, autonomy and self-worth. In the descriptive sense, it refers to a bunch of entitlements and claims vindicated on a normative basis and rendered implementable being supported by constitutional mandate. If the State denies it to any person, he/she may approach the highest court of the land to vindicate and enforce the right.

However, The Constitution, thus, recognizes the right to privacy as an implicit part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Conclusion

The article discusses the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the citizens of India, under the Part III of the Constitution of India, 1950, namely The Right To Privacy, which is part of Article 21, “Right to Life”, which is also known as the heart of the Indian Constitution. While the Right to Privacy helps in creating a line of difference between ‘The Public’ and ‘The Private’. It should be noted that the Right to Privacy is not always conflicting with rights and are designed, in part, to ensure the accountability of the state.

Although there is no simple solution to balancing the rights, most issues can be alleviated through the enactment of clear definitions in legislation, guidelines, techniques, and oversight system. Since no Rights are absolute including the Right to Privacy.

References

  • https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
  • https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1199182
  • https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/ai/rti/india/articles/rti_&_protection_of_individual_privacy_bk_chakraborty.pdf

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