Evolution of Right to Privacy

The oxford dictionary defines privacy as “an absence or avoidance of publicity or display or it is a state or a condition of being withdrawn from the society of others or from public interest seclusion. There can be varied definitions of privacy but it is closely related to human kind. Therefore the evolution of privacy can be said to be originated from the human beings evolution.

India has been a society of cooperation and strong theme of culture and civilization. Hence, the evolution of privacy can be traced back to the Dharmasastras of Ancient India which had explicitly talked about the laws of privacy in India. One of the Dharmasastra named Hitopadesha says that matters like sex, family matters should not be disclosed. Also in Upanishads or Ramayan and Mahabharat, privacy is considered as an important aspect of human life.

As we proceed from ancient period to eighteen and nineteen century, we will see the association of privacy with the property or house of an individual. The Constitution of India Bill 1895, which is one of the earliest document in relation to privacy, states that “ every individual has an inviolable asylum in his house.” The Common wealth of India bill 1925, protected unwanted interference with one’s dwelling.

As we proceed to the modern times and particularly at the time of framing of Constitution, right to privacy was not considered in the list of fundamental rights to be granted to Indian citizens. This resulted in a large formal debate among various members of the constituent assembly. Members such as K.M. Munshi, Harman Singh and Dr. Ambedkar, strongly insisted inclusion of right to privacy into the list of fundamental rights. However, members like B.N. Rau, B.K. Ayyar and M.K. Panikkar opposed the above inclusion.

On 30 April 1947, Somnath Lahiri, one of the member of constituent assembly made a proposal to make right to privacy of correspondence a fundamental right and which shall be inviolable and infringed only in the cases that are provided by law. However, this proposal failed and on 3rd December 1948, Kazi Syed Karimuddin, giving reference of certain sections of American, Germany and Irish constitution stated “The right to people to have themselves secured in their houses, persons, papers and effects against unreasonable searched and seizures shall not be violated and no warrant shall be issued describing places to be searched or papers to be seized.

After a long period, the Supreme Court has dealt with a number of cases relating to Right to

Privacy, which has helped the right to attain significant position as a part of Right to life and Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. In Govind v/s State of M.P., the court stated that right to privacy falls under different guarantees given by chapter III of the constitution. However, the Supreme Court stated that the right to privacy must be examined case by case and on or two cases are not enough to provide exceptions and consequences of the right.

In ADM Jabalpur v/s Shivkant Shukla, the Supreme Court stated that the Right to Privacy, although not expressly provided in Article 21 of the constitution, one has to recognize its implicit inclusion in Article 21. Further, Maneka Gandhi v/s Union of India, broaden the scope of Article 21. In this case it was laid down that right to liberty and right to personal security is also an integral part of Article 21. This case, gave a wide spectrum, about Right to life and also clarified that right to privacy falls within its scope.

In R.Rajagopal v/s State of Tamil Nadu, the apex court stated that and individual as a right to safeguard the privacy not only of his own but also of his relatives, family, child bearing education etc. No one can publish anything related to personal matters of an individual as right to privacy is both actionable claim and a fundamental right.

In District Registrar and collector, Hyderabad and another v/v Canara Bank and another, the apex court pointed out that personal liberty, freedom of expression and freedom of movement paves way to the right to privacy.

Justice K.S Puttuswamy and Anr v/s Union of India and others, the petition was filed challenging the constitutional validity of Adhar Card. This issue was dealt with the right to privacy, where the attorney general of India argued that privacy is not a part of fundamental right and therefore the question must be decided by the larger constitutional bench. On, 24 August 2017 Supreme Court, unanimously gave the historical judgment stating that the right to privacy is a part of Fundamental rights of the constitution. The nine judge bench declared 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 freedoms guaranteed by part III of the constitution.” Right to privacy has to be understood separately with the reference to Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. However the apex court also pointed out that the state has the authority to impose reasonable restrictions on the right to privacy of an individual so that the interests of the state is also protected. The judgment is thus a strong example of the protection of right to privacy and freedom of expression in India.

Thus while summarizing, it is understood that the privacy has a very long history. Various judgments were laid down by the Supreme Court to finally incorporate right to privacy under Part III of the constitution. Privacy is also regarded as one of the important aspect of dignity of an individual. Right to privacy is a mechanism through which the state would fabricate adequate institutions which will allow every individual to protect his private life. Thus, Right to Privacy has come a long way in order to get itself established as an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution of India.



This article is written by Neha Bodas of ADV.BALASAHEB APTE COLLEGE OF LAW.

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