Constitutional Law


Right to privacy

Right To Privacy

The Supreme Court has declared that Art. 21 is the heart of the Fundamental Rights. Article 21 has demonstrated to be multi-dimensional. The addition in the dimensions of Art.21 has been made possible by giving expanded meaning to the word ‘life’ and ‘liberty’ in Art.21. These two words in Art. 21 are not to be read tapering. These are living terms which are to be interpreted meaningfully. The Supreme Court has declared that in order to treat a right as a fundamental right, it is not essential that it should be expressly stated in the Constitution as the Fundamental Right.


Before, we get into a complete discussion of Right to Privacy first of all we need to know what the word privacy means. In ancient times in India, the law would give protection only from physical dangers such as infringe from which the Right to Property come out to secure his house and cattle. This was maintained to be the Right to life. As the ever changing common law grew to serve the problems faced by the people, it was realized that not only was physical security required, but also security of the spiritual self as well as of his feelings, intelligence was required. Right to Privacy does not set out the Fundamental Right in the Constitution of India. In the context of surveillance, it has been held that surveillance, if trespassing and seriously encroaches on the privacy of citizen can trespass the freedom of movement, assured by Articles 19(1) (d) and 21. Surveillance must be to prevent crime and on the basis of details provided in the history sheet.


As already discussed Article 21 of the Constitution of India explains that “No individual shall be impoverished of his life or personal freedom except according to process established by law”. The right of life enshrined in Article 21 has been liberally interpreted so as to mean something more than mere existence. It thereafter, includes all those aspects of life which makes a man lives more meaningful, complete and worth living and right to privacy is one such right. The first time this topic was put forward in the case of Kharak Singh v. State of UP where the Supreme Court held that Regulation 236 of UP Police regulation was unconstitutional as it discord with Article 21 of the Constitution. If was held by the Court that the right to privacy is a part of right to protection of life and personal liberty. Here, the Court has equated privacy to personal freedom. In Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh, Mathew, J, accepted the right to privacy as a consequence from Art.19 (a), (d) and 21, but right to privacy is not absolute right. “Assuming that the fundamental rights, clearly guaranteed to a person have shady zones and that the right to privacy is itself a fundamental right, the fundamental right must be subject to limitation on the basis of compelling public interest”.


The Bill includes protection from a citizen’s identity theft, involving criminal identity theft, financial identity theft, etc.  As per the bill, no person who has a place of business in India, but has data using tools located in India, shall collect or processor use or disclose any data relating to person to any individual without permission of such person. Further, it says any persons who have any record of details pertaining an individual from any officer of the administration or agency under fake pretext shall be punishable with a penalty of up to Rs. 5 Lacs.


In India the Constitution does not expressly acknowledge the right to privacy. But after the case of Kharak Singh v. State of UP. The Supreme Court for the first time recognized the right to privacy which is implied in the Constitution under Article 21. The court held that the right to privacy is an important part of the right to life, but without any clear cut laws, it still remains in the gray area. The concept was based on the conclusion that the infringement of a fundamental right must be both direct as well as tangible that the liberation guaranteed u/a 19(1)(a) – a right to freedom of speech and expression was not isolated upon by a watch being kept over the movement of the suspect. In R. Rajagopal v. State of T.N, the Supreme Court held that the right to privacy is a ‘right to let alone’. No one can put forward anything pertaining the above matters without his permission, whether truthful or otherwise whether laudatory or critical. If he does so, he would be violating the right to privacy of the individual concerned and would be liable in the action of damages.



Right to privacy, once incorporated as an essential right, is wide enough to trespass into any sphere of activity. The conferral of such Aright has become extremely difficult with the modernization of technology and the social networking sites. But the other side of the picture is that right to privacy of a person involves the right to concern personal information today, each person is a press, taking in view the emergence of blog spots and social networking sites. Generally, the right to privacy may come in conflict with the right to press the right to press is a right derived from Article 19(1) (a) in specific. The question where there is a dispute, which should prevail over the other, is well explained by putting forward the concept of ‘public interest’ and ‘public morality’. The announcement of personal information of a person without his permission or consent is justified if such details forma part of public records pertaining court records. Each case is distinct and each right is essential. The right to privacy may come in dispute with the investigation of police in many aspects. Narco-analysis polygraph test and brain mapping tests, in application, make unjustified intrusion into the right to privacy of a person. The court discouraged the unnecessary violation of the right to privacy of a person’s and held that no administration shall be given power to violate the right to privacy of a person, the court held while altering the conviction for non-compliance of legal requirement of search and annexation.


Right to privacy is an integral part of right to life and personal freedom under Article 21. Right of privacy may, apart from agreement, also rise out of a specific relationship, which may be commercial, matrimonial or even political. Right to privacy is not fixed right; it is concerned to notable limitations for prevention of crime, disorder or protection of health or morals. Where there is a dispute between two attained rights, the right which advances public morality and public interest prevails. Being part of a society often overrules the fact that we are individuals first. Each person needs his/her private space for whichever activity which must be legal. The state suitably gives each person that right to enjoy those private moments with those whom they want to without the curious eyes of the rest of the world. In this day and age, this right is becoming more important as everyday passes. With all our lives being showered over the media be it through social networking sites or the spy cameras, as we need protection so that we can function in a way we want to and not think of others before our deeds. Hence, the only ones we own a definition to ourselves, and not the entire world.

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