Article 21 of the Constitution states about Fundamental Rights and Right to Privacy.
Article 21 states that:
“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”
But do we have the Right to Privacy in India? or Is it just a myth?
Let us consider our very first case.
MP SHARMA VS SATISH CHANDRA
This case relates to Dalmia group of industries, in this Dalmia group were accused of monkey business and malpractices regarding money. And for hiding this they were making forged documents and fraud balance sheet. So, the government gave investigation orders on the company. An FIR was filed and for more than thirty location of the company a search and seizure warrant were issued
Dalmia group challenging this investigation said that during this research our private documents have also been seen and that is a violation of our fundamental right i.e right to privacy.
An eight Judge Bench gave the judgement that for the security of the state, the state was provided overriding power of search and seizure
The Bench further said that there is no such concept of right to privacy In the Indian Constitution.
Another leading case in this regard is
Kharak Singh v. The state of U.P. (1962)
This case relates to surveillance, in this case KharakSingh gets arrested in case of dacoity. But due to not having any substantial evidence he is freed, now U.P police to collect evidence imposes surveillance on Kharak Singh under U.P police regulation. This regulation says that Kharak Singh can be any time called, any visitors can be suspected, and all his moments can be tracked. To get rid of all this KharakSingh files a writ petition to challenge the surveillance and the regulation going against him.According to Singh this all is restricting his right to movement and right to life and liberty also.
Supreme court in a six Judge Bench said that only Domiciliary visits were deemed to be unconstitutional, but others regulation appeared to be valid. In this case also supreme court said that Right To Privacy is not guaranteed in the Constitution of India, supreme court also said that Right to movement under article 19 (1)(D)is only restricted when there is a physical restriction. However, Justice Subba Rao who gave dissenting views on this are important
Justice Subba Rao said that ‘Anybody can enjoy freedom of movement anywhere for personal purpose, if the moment has been tracked then how free it is?
One more case in this direction is
PUCL V. UOI (1997) also known as wiretappingcase. In this case former PM Chandra Shekar put allegations on the government, that the government is tapping phones of Chandra Shekar and 27 otherpoliticians. So a CBI investigation was set up in this regard, they exposed the wide spread phone tapping done by government. So PUCL (peoples union for civil liberty ) filed a PIL in supreme court saying that supreme court to give clarity to people on laws regarding phone tapping and tell people which laws are available under protection of phone tapping . In this case Indian Telegraph Act Section 5(2) was challenged, this sec gives the state the power of phone tapping and interception for public safety.
So, supreme court clarify some guid lines against phone tapping like Supreme court said Right toPrivacy comes under Right to Life and Personal Liberty which will be cover under Article 21.Supreme court also said that the telephonic conversion are of private and intimate nature so they will also be covered under Article 21. To incorporate all the guidelines, rule 419(A) of Indian Telegraph Rules was codified. The rule says that under only unavoidable circumstances only union Home Secretary or state Home Secretary will authorities this phone tapping. But the fact is after all this guidelines and rules phone tapping is still done at a great level.
Now the landmark case regarding Right to Privacy is
Justice K.S Puttaswamy V. UOI (AADHARCASE)
In this case the India’s national identity project was challenged, that this project infringes the right to privacy of people. Supporting this project Advocate general of India said Indian’s citizen do not have any such right called as right to privacy and they supported this argument with MpSharma and Kharak singh Case.
To make a big stand supreme court established a bench of 9 Judges, in August 2017 this bench gave a unanimous decision and said that India citizens do have a right to privacy, and they enjoy fundamental right to privacy and you will get this support under Article 21.
Supreme court also said to protect fundamental right to privacy there is no need of separate section, under article 14,19,21 these rights are sufficiently protected.
In Vineet Kumar case supreme court held that phone tapping is permitted in case of public emergency and safety. But in threshold economic cases phone tapping cannot be done this is illegal.
So, the citizens have Right to Privacy as a guaranteed fundamental right.
But after this Aadhar case is right to privacy infringed?
Because sharing our personal details like biometrics is an infringement of our privacy but it is still legal and most necessary document in our country. Document such as pan card also involve our private detail. But the Aadhar is also especially important as it gives us online / offline verification across the country. So can we call this a myth to privacy or not,as it is also necessary to do so. Phone tapping Is done a lot these days, but this also needs to be done under necessary circumstances, but on the other hand it is necessary to catch criminals to track their location for safety of society. Social media use has infringed our privacy to a lot more extent, no one can ensure online privacy. We are not aware about where our information is being shared, but at the same time sharing this information is to be done without which the further process cannot be done. So, our right toPrivacy is being given to us at lot more extent but asome points it can be just called as a myth.