Privacy is a sacrosanct right that any civilized society must recognise. However, we have no dedicated privacy rights and laws in India. This is despite the fact that privacy laws in India and privacy rights in India have been constantly demanded in India by various civil liberty stakeholders. Even we have no dedicated data protection laws in India as on date.
This is bizarre as in the present information and communication technology (ICT) era absence of privacy and data protection laws in India are more by design than ignorance. Techno legal experts in India have been suggesting that we must give a special attention to the privacy rights in India in the information age.
They maintain that privacy and data protection requirements are essential part of civil liberties protection in cyberspace. It would not be wrong to assume privacy and data protection rights as integral part of human rights protection in cyberspace.
Fortunately, privacy rights issue is pending before the Supreme Court of India due to leakage of tapped conversation between Ratan Tata and Nira Radia. The Supreme Court of India must expand privacy rights in India as that is the need of hour. However, while respecting the privacy rights of Ratan Tata we cannot exclude the right of others to information. Clearly, there is a conflict between right to privacy and right to information that needs to be resolved by the Indian Supreme Court.
According to Praveen Dalal, leading techno legal expert of Asia and managing partner of ICT law firm Perry4Law, “The Indian Constitutional Scheme is based upon “Balance of Rights” and no right is absolute in nature. In case of conflict between two Fundamental Rights, the Fundamental Right that strengthens and substantiate the Public Interest should prevail”. Hence if there is a conflict between Right to Privacy and Right to Information/know, information can be disclosed in certain circumstances to substantiate and strengthen Public Interest, opines Dalal.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India has warned that privacy violations may also pose national security problems in India. The court has asked Indian government to keep in place a system that can maintain the safety and privacy of any intercepted and tapped conversation. Let us see what would be the stand of Centre in this regard during the next hearing.