Right To Be Forgotten

In order to protect his fundamental right to privacy, the Madras High Court ruled on Friday that an accused person who is subsequently exonerated of all charges is entitled to have his name blacked from any Court orders relating to the offence he was accused of.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh made the remark while hearing a case in which a man had been charged with cheating and rape under Sections 417 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) but had been acquitted of all charges and had asked the High Court to remove his name from the verdict.

Although he was vindicated of all charges, the petitioner claimed that anyone who types his name into a Google search can obtain the relevant judgement, in which he is listed as an accused. As a result of this substantial obstacle to his reputation, he requested permission from the Court to redact his name from the relevant judgement. The Court also highlighted the Data Protection Bill 2019 and its potential to properly protect a person’s data and privacy if it is implemented.

The Court furthermore noted that current regulations only safeguard the identities of victims, who are mostly women and children, by guaranteeing that their names are not included in any court order. However, an accused individual who has been cleared of all charges has yet to be afforded such protection.

As a result, the Court determined that the petitioner has shown a prima facie case, and that he is entitled to his basic right to privacy as embodied in Article 21 of the Constitution, as held in the historic Supreme Court decision of Puttasamy v. Union of India. The Court did note, however, that because the High Court is hearing this case for the first time, members of the bar and counsel for the respondents are welcome to submit recommendations on the matter.

The Final arguments in this case are scheduled for July 28 at 2:15 p.m. The Registry was also ordered to publish the order in both the Principal Bench and the Madurai Bench Advocate Associations and Bar Associations. The Court has asked members of the Bar to assist it with this matter.

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