ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Right to Privacy and RTI Act

Against the backdrop of Justice K S Puttaswamy (Retd) and Anr v Union of India and Ors in which the nine judges declared unanimously that the state cannot abuse its power to search, tap phones and knock the doors at midnight without any legally prescribed reasonable procedure and justification, this article argues that the state has to put machinery and authority in place to secure the right to privacy.

In any dishonest and non-accountable administration, the privacy of a citizen becomes highly vulnerable. The Supreme Court bench of nine judges (Justice K S Puttaswamy (Retd) and Anr v Union of India and Ors (2012) (Justice Puttaswamy case) declared unanimously that the state cannot abuse its power to search, tap phones and knock the doors at midnight without any legally prescribed reasonable procedure and justification, because the right to privacy is a fundamental right, being an intrinsic part of the right to life under Article 21. In principle, any person, whose privacy if infringed can file a writ petition under Article 32 or Article 226, and challenge the state that holds or owns or collects huge data of personal information about citizens, for selective disclosure or misuse of their data.

In District Registrar and Collector, Hyderabad & Anr v Canara Bank (2005), a bench of two judges of the Supreme Court considered the provisions of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 (as amended by a special law in Andhra Pradesh). Section 73 has empowered the collector to inspect registers, books and records, papers, documents and proceedings in the custody of any public officer to secure any duty or to prove or would lead to the discovery of a fraud or omission. The then Chief Justice of India, Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, took guidance from Kharak Singh v State of UP (1963) (Kharak Singh case) to find a reasonable expectation of privacy, and also held that the state could not allow the customers privacy to be breached by non-governmental persons, and thus, statute insofar as it allowed the collector to authorise any person to seek inspection would be unenforceable.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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