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With the advent of social media and networking it is difficult to maintain privacy with the data available online. Data on the internet is flowing like water in the river. If the information of someone is available on the internet which the person has relevant context now or the reason for which it was there on the internet has been served is affecting the other person emotionally or making it difficult for another person to live peacefully. Then, it is a violation of article 211. This can be removed through the right to be forgotten which is provided under the right to privacy.

Right to forgotten means the deletion of the user’s personal information from the search engine, website, and many more. The European Union acquired the General Data Protection Bill [GDPR]2 in the year 2018. Article 17 of this bill provides certain rights to the erasure of personal information and the certain rights include which are no longer necessary, consent has been withdrawn for particular information, and where there is legal obligation to erase. There are also some reasonable restrictions to some extent like in the area of public interest related to public health, or the data required in achieving historical, statistical, or scientific research.3

The right to be forgotten is to be followed in other countries also. In 2014, in Spain, the European court of justice managed a case Google Inc V Agencia Espanola De Proteccion De Datos in which a Spanish man whose name was Mario Costeja Gonzalez asked google to remove his information related to the auction for his unbridled home and the debt he had subsequently paid. Google was sued under the National High court which suggested a series of questions to the European court of justice. The court ruled the judgment in the favour of the Spanish man and asked google to delete the information.

In 2016, the first case of the right to be forgotten was heard by the Chinese court in Beijing in which they held that the residents don’t have the right to be forgotten. In this case, Ren Jiayu asked the Chinese web search tool Baidu to remove the search list that is related to Wuxi Taoshi’s previous business. Ren argued that the right of name and right of notoriety is reserved under Chinese law. Then the court ruled the judgment against Ren and said that he doesn’t have a right to be forgotten.


The right to privacy is our fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian constitution decided in the case of Justice K.S Puttaswamy Vs the Union of India4 in 2017. Data is a very sensitive thing that needs to be protected. The personal data protection bill5 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2019 with the objective to protect or conserve the data from getting into the wrong hands. This bill also includes the right to be forgotten under clause 20 of chapter V. it means that any person can ask the data fiduciary to remove or limit the data of the concerned person. The role of data fiduciary is to decide the means and the purpose of controlling the personal data it can be anyone an individual, entity, state, or cooperation. The data will be monitored by the Data protection authority and any removal of data has to be approved by the Data protecting authorities’ adjudicating officer. The officer has to see many aspects like the public interest in the concerned data, the extent of availability susceptibility, or the scope of divulgence before approving the removal of the data.


“Right to be forgotten is the biggest threat to freedom of speech and expression in the coming decade”
-Jeffrey Rosen

The right to be forgotten is a much-needed statute nowadays to protect the individual interest against defamatory or derogatory statements. Freedom of speech and expression is our fundamental right under article 196 of our Indian constitution and also contains reasonable restrictions under Article 19[2]7. Whereas the right to be forgotten can undermine the lusture of freedom of speech and expression. It can affect journalism it will be difficult for media to express their views freely and to wait for the decision of the adjudicating officer. If any person wishes to delete some information on the internet then it will favor the individual, not the society at large. This will also create a sense of feeling in the minds of the people that they are not free to express their views through articles, books, blogs, etc.


  • Jorawar Singh Mundy Vs Union Of India and Ors8
    In this case, the petitioner was an American citizen who visited India in 2009. He got acquitted under the narcotics drugs and substance [NDPS] act, 1985. After two years trial court convicted him on April 30, 2011. On 29 January 2013 through the appeal of state, the Delhi high court then affirmed her acquittal. After returning to America petitioner realized that the Delhi high court’s judgment is available on the internet and this can be harmful to his reputation or while screening test done by the employer. He sent directions to Google India Private Ltd., Google LLC, Indian Kanoon, and but the judgment was not deleted then he filled a writ petition before the Delhi High Court for the violation of Article 21. The Delhi high court directed the respondents to delete the judgment.
  • Dharmaraj Bhanushankar Dave Vs State of Gujarat and ors9
    In this case, the petitioner filed a writ petitioner under Article 226 of the Indian constitution before the Gujarat High court for the violation of Article 21. The non-reportable judgment was published by the Indian kanoon on their site and the petitioner contended that google and Indian kanoon has no right to publish any non-reportable judgment. The court held that the judgment was part of the proceeding and that merely publishing judgment on online websites will not amount to be reported. So, it is not a violation of Article 21 and there is no legal rationale to remove the judgment.
  • Subhranshu Rout Gugul Vs State of Odisha10
    In this rape case, the accused has created a fake id on Facebook and uploaded objectionable photos of the prosecutrix on the fake id. The police were failed to take any strict action against the accused. The pictures were taken with the consent of the prosecutrix at the time they were in a relationship but now they got separated. It was observed that consent does not mean to misuse the phots or outraging the modesty of the women. In this case, the right to be forgotten should be exercised. The court held that the photo should be removed to protect the privacy of the victim. Irrespective of ongoing criminal cases. The Odisha High Court further noted that the Indian Criminal Justice system is more of a sentence-oriented system, with little emphasis on compensating victims for their losses and suffering. Allowing such offensive photographs and videos to remain on a social networking platform without a woman’s agreement is an outrage to her modesty and, more crucially, her right to privacy.


Information in the public domain is like toothpaste. They can not completely be deleted if someone has taken a screenshot or screened the concerned content. the right to privacy is our fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian constitution which needs to be protected. The right to be forgotten is also included in the personal data protection bill, 2019 which is a great step towards the safety of data and the privacy of the individual. In case one person was acquitted under any criminal action but later on find to be innocent and the judgment is reported on many websites or search engines. It can be difficult for the employee to get a job as during the screening process this can destroy the reputation of the employee. The right to be forgotten can be a major relief and can ask for the removal of the judgment. Also in the case when a person with the intention of taking revenge or with the feeling of animosity posts or share any picture or video which is offensive or outrages the modesty of the victim through the right to be forgotten victim can make them deleted. It is been a debatable topic whether the right to be forgotten undermines the fundamental right the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 which also contains reasonable restrictions under Article 19[2] of the Indian constitution. If a person asks to remove some content from the website or from the internet then it can also cause feelings among the people that they are not free to express their views and opinion through writing articles, blogs, etc and the removal of the concerned content can lead to being in the favor of the individual rather than the society at large. According to me, it requires judicial administration, and article 19[2] which provides reasonable restrictions should be amended and should include privacy in it.


  1. Constitution of India,1950, art 21
  2. General Data Protection Bill
  3. Sofi Ahsan, ‘Right to be forgotten: govt position, court rulings, and laws elsewhere’[The Indian Express,27 December 2021]<>
  4. Justice K Puttaswamy Vs Union Of India, {[2017] 10 SCC 1}
  5. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019
  6. Constitution of India, 1950 art 19
  7. Constitution of India, 1950 art 19[2]
  8. Jorawer Singh Mundy Vs Union Of India, [W.P. [C] 3918/2020 & CM APPL. 11767/2021]
  9. Dharamraj Bhanushankar Dave Vs State of Gujarat & Ors, [2015 SCC]
  10. Subhranshu Rout Gugul VS State of Orissa, [ CS[OS] 642/2018]

This article is written by Prerna Pahwa, a student of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi.

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