Crl.A. No 14/2013
W.P. (C) 3918/ 2020
Justice Pratibha M. Singh
12. 04. 2021
Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and Article 21 of the Constitution.
The petition was filed by the petitioner for the removal of the judgment titled, ‘Custom v Jorawar Singh Mundy’ from the platforms such as Google, Indian Kanoon, and Vlex.in. The case of the petitioner is that the petitioner is of Indian origin but an American citizen. He claims that he is indulged in portfolios of real estate etc. When he came to India, a case under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 19851 was made against him. After that, he was acquitted by the trial court under this case. the decision of the trial court resulted in an appeal before the high court. The high court decided to uphold the acquittal of the petitioner.
According to the petitioner’s claims, he or she returned to the country and attended the University of San Diego School of Law to further pursue his or her legal education. After that, he understood that he was at a severe disadvantage because any prospective employer looking to check his record before hiring him might easily find the court’s verdict by conducting a google search. Despite having a strong academic background, the petitioner claims that he has been unable to find employment that meets his expectations. He attributes this inability to the fact that this judgment is publicly available online.
The petitioner also issued the legal notice to the platforms such as Google India Private Ltd, Google LLC, Indian Kanoon, and vLex.in. The website of vLex.in contended that they have removed the said judgment but it is still available on other platforms. To recognize the petitioner’s Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution2, the prayer in this writ petition is to direct the removal of the abovementioned ruling from all respondent platforms.
Whether a court order can be removed from the online platforms?
The court held that the charges brought against the petitioner were dismissed from the case. Despite having been ultimately found not guilty in the case by the aforementioned judgment, this Court believes that the petitioner is still entitled to some interim protection while the legal issues are still pending adjudication by this Court because of the irreparable harm that may be done to his social life, career prospects, and legal standing.
The court directed the respondent no. 2 and 3 to remove the judgment titled, ‘Custom v. Jorawar Singh Mundy’ from their search results. Whereas, Indiankanoon was directed to block the said judgment from being retrieved by using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, till the date of the next hearing.
A person’s life will be as bad as hell if information about their criminal history or any occurrence that would have caused the public to have a bad opinion of them is made public. He or she will be imprisoned in their former lives. India has experienced rapid development in recent years. This development occurred on top of the nation’s digital technologies roots. The internet and smartphones have integrated seamlessly into our daily lives. Additionally, courts are now acknowledging that Article 21 covers access to the internet. Some of us would prefer to move on from our pasts and forget about them. The issue emerges when a person’s past mistakes chain him and causes him to make the same mistakes over and over again.
The Right to be forgotten aims to provide assistance in this issue. The scope of the Right to be forgotten should be expanded and must include removing everything that is “irrelevant, erroneous, or inadequate.” It should not be limited to “sensitive personal data.” In this instance, the petitioner’s attorney has highlighted the fact that, in the absence of supporting legislation, the public is likely to disagree with the petitioner’s request and support the right to privacy and freedom of expression. According to Akshat Bajpai, a lawyer for one of the petitioners, big multinational corporations operate differently in Europe than they do in India when it comes to following the law. It is essential to secure someone’s privacy given how quickly technology is developing. The right to be forgotten ensures that an individual’s privacy will be protected and supports their right to free speech. The establishment of such a right in India will assist the populace in managing their “digital footprint” and address the problem of data security and misuse that has recently emerged.
- The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985.
- The constitution of India, 1950, Art. 21
This article is written by Prerna Pahwa, a student at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi.