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In 2017, Supreme Court judgement confirmed that right to privacy is a part of article 21 that deals with right to life and liberty. The series of supreme court judgement conveyed the evolution and development of right to privacy. The concept of privacy and its framework is applicable in both public and private domain. This article disscuss various issues and judgement related to privacy and protection provided by law under the ambit of article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
“In the 21st century, a government that cannot protect its citizens right to privacy cannot credibly maintain a democratic regime of equal treatment under the law”. Since 2010, the right to privacy is a matter of debate and discussion that whether right to privacy is a fundamental right under the purview of Chapter 3 of Indian constitution or not. However, the recent Judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India has gained more prominence to the concept of Privacy in India as it dealt with the issues related to aadhaar database.
The word privacy derived from the term “Privatus” which means separated from the rest of the world. The right to privacy is implicitly made part of article 21, right to life and liberty of the constitution. Every citizen has the right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation motherhood, childbearing and education among other matters.
Law of tort also prevent dissemination of any information related to any person without his consent, the field of tort include principle of nuisance, trespass,, defamation, malicious falsehood and breach of confidence, such cases of breach of privacy are subject to compensation under law of tort.
Under law of contract, the parties to a contract may agree to use provision of confidentiality to unauthorised any disclosure of information against the agreement, a breach of contract inviting an action for damages as a consequence of any breach of contract.
The prerequisite of privacy is the reservation of private space from rest of the society, it is an autonomy of an individual to exclude unwanted intrusion. In other words, privacy as explained by Justice Cooley of USA as “the right of a person to be let alone”.
The constitution of India has embodied a number of fundamental rights in part 3 of the constitution, which are subject to reasonable restrictions, and act as limitation not only upon the power of the executive but also upon the power of legislature but giving power to judiciary to decide the validity of any right.
The constitution of India under article 21 empower every person living in territory to led dignified life. A nine judge constitution bench of supreme court ruled that right to privacy is a fundamental right. A liberal interpretation, the supreme Court has read several rights in article 21 to make ‘life’ more meaningful and worth living, that includes Right of Privacy.
The right to privacy includes proper collection, regulation, maintenance, use and dissemination of personal information which are subject to penalty in case of violation of such right.
In the Case of Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. The Hon’ble SupremeCourt of India held that “The Right to be left alone”, falls under Right to Privacy.
Justice KS puttaswamy (Retd) &Anr. v. Union of India & ors.. The unique Identity scheme was discussed along with right to privacy. The provisions of Aadhaar act requiring demographic and biometric information from a resident for Aadhaar number 3 fold test has laid down in this case. Hence, it cannot be set to be unconstitutional. Also collection of data, its storage and use does not violate fundamental right of privacy. In the lead judgement of justice DY Chandrachud, held the constitutional validity of right to privacy as fundamental right. The three-fold test are:
- The existence of law;
- A legitimate state interest and;
- Such law should pass the test of proportionality.
Unique identification authority of India & Another v. Central bureau of investigation 2014, The Central bureau of investigation sought access to the huge database compiled by the unique Identity authority of India for the purposes of investigation in criminal offences. The supreme court, said that the UIDAI was not to transfer any biometric without the consent of the person. Hence, it does not breach right to privacy.
Selvi and others v. state of Karnataka 2010, in this case the supreme court made a difference between physical privacy and mental privacy. The case also established a connection of right to privacy with article 20(3) self incrimination. Subjecting a person to the narco analysis lie detector and BEAP tests in an interlocutory manner violates prescribed boundaries of privacy. No victim of an offence can be compelled to undergo any of such test. Such a forcible administration would be an unjustified intrusion into mental privacy.
In a democratic regime all men are equal and born free, adhere right to life and personal liberty. Interpretation of law in explicit manner giving constitutional validity to right to privacy in a exclusive manner by the supreme court, it implies that right to privacy is a part of article 21 of the Indian constitution. Justice Chandrachud, states “We are in an information age. With the growth and development of technology, more information is now easily available. The information explosion has manifold advantages but also some disadvantages.
The access to information, which an individual may not want to give, needs the protection of privacy”. Undoubtedly the judiciary is progressive and it appears that the right to life and liberty guaranteed under article 21 of Indian Constitution which protects an individual against both state and non-state actors can very well accommodate informational privacy.
 Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1.
 Supra note 5.
 Shorter constitution of India, 14th edition 2008 under article 21
 JUSTICE K S Puttaswamy Retd and Another v.Union of India and others 2018 SC 366 Ibid
 Selvi v. State of Karnataka,(2010) 7 SCC 263 (379) : AIR 2010 SC 1970