• The Law Gazette

Right to Privacy through the glass of Constitution

The Right to privacy is a facet of assorted legal ethics to limit gubernatorial and confidential actions that intimidate the privacy of entities. Around 150 national constitutions acknowledge the Right to privacy. The Right to privacy is the Right to clutched a realm around us, which lugs all those stuff that are afar of us, such as our body, home, property, thoughts, feelings, secrets, and identity. There is now a mystery as to whether the Right to privacy act can co-exist with the prevailing capabilities of intelligence agencies to avenue and contemplate virtually in every detail of an individual's life. A big mystery is whether or not the Right to privacy needs to be coasted as a chunk of the social contract to bolster defense against supposed terrorist threats.

Private sector actors could also menace the Right to privacy. Progressively, questions have popped up about the use of personal data for targeted advertising, allocation data with external parties, and reusing personal data within big data by enormous technology giants, analogous as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, & Yahoo. These concerns have been invigorated by scandals, conceding that the psychographic company Cambridge Analytical was using personal data, illegitimately obtained through Facebook, to wield and influence large groups of people, including during the 2016 US Presidential elections.

Different issues were heightened for the government’s initiatives such as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Digital Locker, and other digital services through the Digital India Scheme. The Right to privacy has been ameliorated by the Supreme Court over some time. Amidst the far-reaching analysis of the phrase, “personal liberty” such Right has been interpreted into Article 21. It cannot however be evaluated as an absolute Right. Some limits on this Right have to be imposed.


The right to privacy has not been stated as a Fundamental Right under the Constitution of India. The scope of this Right first evolved in Kharak Singh v. The State of Uttar Pradesh,[1] , which was bothered with the efficacy of certain rules that permitted surveillance of suspects This Right of privacy is studied as the Right to be let alone. In the context of surveillance, it was been held that surveillance, if forwarded and seriously impinged on the privacy of a citizen, can contravene the freedom of movement, guaranteed by Articles 19(1)(d) and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.


Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states that ‘No one shall be wreaked to arbitrary intrusion with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attack upon his admire and reputation,’ Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights articulates that Everyone has the Right to Awe for his confidential and family life, his home and his analogy there will be no intrusion by a national authority except analogous as is per law and is fateful in a democratic community in the sympathy of communal security, public asylum or the economic well-being of the country, for the safeguard of health or integrity or the protection of the Rights and exemptions of others.


In Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh,[2], Justice Mathew accepted, the Right to privacy as dawn from Art.19 (a), (d) and 21, but the Right to privacy is not absolute. “Inferring that the fundamental Rights notably endorsed to a citizen have penumbral belts and that the Right to privacy is itself a fundamental Right, the fundamental Right must be projected to curb based on constraining public interest”. Wiretap by domiciliary converses need not always be an absurd invasion on the privacy of a person owing to the humor and antecedents of the person wreaked to wiretap as also the butts and the constraint under which the wiretap is made. The Right to privacy pacts with ‘creatures not places.’

In another case Smt. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India & Anr,[3], the Supreme Court held that ‘personal liberty’ under Article 21 caps a variety of Rights & some have the status of fundamental rights and given additional protection under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Triple Test for any law intrusion with personal liberty:

1. It must prescribe a procedure.

2. The procedure must withstand the test of one or more of the fundamental rights conferred under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution which may be applicable in a given situation.

3. It must withstand the test of Article 14.

The law and procedure licensing intrusion with personal liberty and Right of privacy must also be Right just and fair and not arbitrary, fanciful, or oppressive.

In K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Ors. v.Union of India(UOI) and Ors,[4], the Apex Court held that, if the perception made in M.P. Sharma and Ors. V. Satish Chandra and Ors. And Kharak Singh V. State of U.P. and Ors are seen literally and endorsed as Law; the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India and more notably Right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution would be bared vigor and vitality. Governmental integrity & judicial regulation crave that edict made by larger Benches of this Court cannot be discounted by the smaller Benches without judiciously expounding the reasons for not serving the pronouncements made by such larger benches. The Ratio Decidendi in the two cases should be analyzed. The jurisprudential exactitude of the subsequent edicts of mentioned Court where the Right to privacy is either asserted be tested and authoritatively decided by a bench of appropriate tenacity.


In P.U.C.L. v. Union of India,[5], The Supreme Court of India, while laying down the standards for telephone wiretapping had scrutinized that the Right to privacy is an intrinsic chunk of the fundamental Right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution and this Right shall be feasible only against the state. Earlier Justice P.N Bhagawati, also detected that the Right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare urgency of life such as decent nutrition, clothing and shelter, and facilities for reading, writing, and expressing oneself in distinct forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings.

Every deed which antagonizes contra or blunts human dignity would aggregate deprivation pro tanto of his Right to live and it would have to align with reasonable, fair and just procedure entrenched by law which sounds for the test of other fundamental rights .” thence one could inspect from the overhead cases that the Supreme Court acknowledged that human dignity entails expressing oneself in diverse forms and acknowledges the value and worth of all the individuals in the society. Lord Denning[6] has also quibbled for the perception of benefit of the Right to privacy that, “common law may perceive Benefit to privacy. Any infringement of it may provide induce of action for contaminates or an injunction as the case may require. It should also perceive a Right of confidence for all correspondence and communications which expressly or impliedly are given in confidence.

None of these rights is absolute. Each is prone to exceptions. These exemptions are to be avowed whenever the public amuse in openness outweighs the public amuse in privacy or confidentiality. In every precedent, it is a balancing exercise for the Courts. As each case is cinched, it will create a precedent for others. So a body of case-law will be entrenched. In Mr. X V. Hospital Z,[7], the Apex Court held that the Right to privacy in the doctor-patient relationship is not absolute. The right to a healthy life would condone the infringement of confidentiality or the Right to privacy of another person. In another case Directorate of Revenue V. Mohd Nisar Holla,[8], the court held that a person who does not contravene a law would be baptized to enjoy his life and liberty which would include the Right not to be disturbed. A Right to be let alone is sanctioned to be a Right under Article 21.


In many nations, the Right to privacy is not given expressly to their individuals, but it is minted from judicial interpretations. The term “privacy” has been outlined as “the Rightful claim of the individual to determine the extent to which he wishes to split of himself with others and his curb over the time, place and assets to broadcast with others.” Privacy has also been defined as a Zero-relationship between two or more persons in the touch that there is no synergy or communication between them if they so choose. Many Jurists have proposed that privacy is valued because it satisfies several primary human urgencies. Hence, the Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right.

ENDNOTES [1] Kharak Singh v. The State of Uttar Pradesh 1963 AIR 1295, 1964 SCR (1) 332 [2] Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh 1975 SCR (3) 946 [3] Smt. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India & Anr, 1978 SCR (2) 621 [4] K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Ors. V.Union of India(UOI) and Ors,2015(8) SCALE 747 [5] P.U.C.L. v. Union of India, (1997)1 SCC 301 [6] (1996) 3 SCC (Jour) 9 [7] Mr. X V. Hospital Z,(1998)SCC 296 [8] Directorate of Revenue V. Mohd Nisar Holla,(2008) 2 SCC 370


This blog has been authored by Utkarsh Anand, who is a 4th Year B.A., LL.B. student at Babu Banarasi Das University, Lucknow.