Daily News Analysis

Right to Privacy

6th January, 2022 Polity

Figure 2: No Copyright Infringement Intended

Context:

  • Recently, a Judge of the Madras High Courthas said that a recent order passed by another judge of the same court, mandating the installation of CCTV cameras inside spas [massage and therapy centres] appears to run counter to the Supreme Court's landmark judgement in S. Puttaswamy case (2017).

 

Challenges in Judgement:

Right to Relax:

  • Suspicion of immoral activity at the spa is closely linked to the fundamental right to privacy and is not a good reason to prevent an individual's right to relax.
  • Therefore, installing CCTV equipment in places such as spas will definitely violate the physical autonomy of humans. These are inviolable spaces where the intriguing gaze of the nation must not penetrate.

Separation of Powers Principle:

  • The scope of basic rights cannot be limited by any judicial action.
  • There can be no absolute law, but he said restrictions can only be introduced by the legislature or the executive branch.
  • Apart from that, only the Supreme Court, which is exercising authority under Article 142, can do this.

 

About Privacy rights:

  • In general, privacy is synonymous with the right to be left
  • The Supreme Court has explained data protection and its importance in making breakthrough decisions in Puttaswamy case.
  • The right to privacy is protected as an integral part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as part of the liberty guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
  • Puttaswamy's decision states that the right to privacy is protected as a basic constitutional right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

 

Necessary check for ensuring no violation of privacy:

  • Existence of a law – There should be a law to allow the collection of personal data.
  • A legitimate state interest – Law should aim for objectives like national interest, security etc. that justifies collection of data.
  • Test of proportionality – There should be a rational connection between the collection of data and the objective which the state is claiming to achieve.

 

Supreme court Verdict on Right to Privacy:

  • Under Puttaswamy judgement of a nine judge bench, Supreme Court of India has held that right to privacy is a Fundamental Right and it is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
  • Consent/Choice: Liberty enables the individual to have a choice of preferences on various facets of life including what and how one will eat, the way one will dress, the faith one will espouse.
  • Euthansia: An individual’s rights to refuse life prolonging medical treatment or terminate his life is another freedom which falls within the zone of the right of privacy.
  • Health Records: An unauthorised parting of the medical records of an individual which have been furnished to a hospital will amount to an invasion of privacy.
  • Information control: Three internationally accepted aspects of privacy: spatial control, decisional autonomy, informational control. The third facet is particularly relevant in today’s “era of ubiquitous dataveillance".

Impact of Judgement:

  • The privacy judgment is likely to put a degree of check against unauthorised ‘commodity-fication’ of private profiles taken off the Web.
  • The Supreme Court ruled 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 Constitution.
  • The SC’s privacy ruling may force mobile phone companies to tweak data privacy and protection settings.
  • Following the privacy verdict, e-commerce companies will have to remain cautious about sharing data aimed at targeted advertising.
  • The Supreme Court counts reproductive rights as inherent to the right to life and liberty.
  • The family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation are all integral to the dignity of the individual.
  • Court underscored the “legitimate interest” of the state to monitor the Internet against terrorists, subject to just, fair and reasonable restrictions against encroachment into
  • Privacy must not be utilised as a cover to conceal and assert patriarchal
  • Every individual in society irrespective of social class or economic status is entitled to the intimacy and autonomy which privacy protects.