Thursday, July 27, 2017

What do we mean by a “right of privacy” in India?

What do we mean by a “right of privacy” in India?

Justice Cooley in 1888 defined it simply as a right to be left alone. Alternatively, it may be defined as a right to be anonymous. The two definitions are quite different but both are important, and the right to be anonymous is a form of privacy that has particularly significant implications in cyberspace. In legal terms, our right of privacy amounts to a right to be free from government intrusion into certain areas of our lives and a right to be free from intrusion by other individuals into our “private” lives. The former is protected largely through Constitutional interpretation and a number of statutes; the latter is protected largely through the common law under tort principles.
Before 1890 no English or American court had ever granted relief based on such a claim as “invasion of privacy.” 
However, in 1890 a Harvard Law Review article by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis examined a number of cases ostensibly decided on other grounds, and concluded that these decisions were actually based on a broader principle, a right of privacy. Warren and Brandeis claimed such a principle was in fact necessary to deal with what was seen as the growing problem of excesses of the press. New York was the first state to confront this issue head on in the wake of the article. Several lower courts had held the existence of a right of privacy.
The New York State Court of Appeals (which is, oddly, the State’s highest court – the “Supreme Court” is the State’s entry level court) got to review the matter in the case of Roberson v. Rochester Folding Box Company in 1902. In this case, the defendant had used a picture of an attractive young woman to advertise its flour without her consent. In a 4–3 decision, the Court of Appeals held that there was no legal precedent for such “right of privacy.” Furthermore, the Court felt that recognizing a right of privacy was a poor idea because, first, the alleged harm was of a purely mental character and would thus be difficult to prove or disprove; second, recognizing a right of privacy would lead to a flood of litigation; third, there would be difficulty in distinguishing between “public” and “private” figures, whose protections under a right of privacy would differ; and finally because it might lead to undue restrictions on the freedom of the press.
A public outcry followed the decision and, in its next session, the New York State Legislature passed a law banning the use of a person’s name or picture “for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade” without the person’s written consent. By the 1930s “virtually” all jurisdictions had recognized the Right of Privacy, either by statute or through the common law.
Man’s house is his castle.a well-known proverb is also getting legal recognition as Right to Privacy. Human beings have a natural need to autonomy or control over confidential part of their. This need is inherent in human behaviour  and now this has been recognized as fundamental right to privacy. It is not a right against physical restrains but it is a right against psychological restrain or encroachment of right . USA, UK, India, and at International level UDHR, ECHR, ICCPR has recognized this right as fundamental right.
Position in India
Right to Privacy is not explicit in the Constitution of India, so it is a subject of judicial interpretation. The judicial interpretations of fundamental right bring it within the purview of fundamental right. The journey of this project would start from the search of answer of issue that whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right, through analysis of cases and some pioneering work of scholars.
In India, after the case of R. Rajagopal alias R. R. Gopal v State of Tamil Nadu and People s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v Union of India , the right to privacy is well recognized as Right to Life. In the case of People s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v Union of India (Telephone Taping Case) Supreme of India also observed Article 17 of ICCPR and Article 12 of UDHN.
The apex court is hearing the Aadhaar card privacy issue.The Government is of a view and has argued before Supreme Court that “there is a fundamental right to privacy, but it is a wholly qualified right”.  The constitution bench of Supreme Court in the same case have said "Can this court define privacy? You can't make a catalogue of what constitutes privacy. Privacy is so amorphous and includes everything... if we make any attempt to catalogue privacy it will have disastrous consequences," 
What now evolves remains to be seen, but i agree that Privacy cannot be an absolute right. I also agree that Data Privacy is bigger than Right to Privacy in this cyber age. India definitely needs Data Privacy or Data Protection Act.


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