Daily Post 1438


Around three years back the right to privacy was guaranteed, as decided in an unanimous judgement by nine judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court India. It was an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. It was a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution. There was a long drawn legal battle wherein with the onset of the digital world, the business and security scenario was hitting at the very base of anything private to our existence. What was really in question is whether we are the absolute owners of our data / information and also its destiny. The judgment also concludes that privacy is a necessary condition for the meaningful exercise of other guaranteed freedoms.

The ubiquitous business / government surveillance was put forth for judicial scrutiny. Innovation was also cited as a reason to play around with our data. Once decided by the highest court of the land, work started on the Data Protection Draft Bill and a detailed research and study was conducted by a committee created for the same purpose. The report towards the creation of the bill was submitted. Few deletions and changes here and there, mainly against the recommendations. Now the Bill after being introduced is being analysed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee with experts and stakeholders. While the world is reeking of data and its misuse of every possible type, we have been taking our own sweet time.

Code of conduct, the way you carry yourself, not coming in way of public servants official functioning and respecting privacy is a part of every profession in a democratic country. The law provides for the manner is which evidence has to be collected, brought into a chargesheet / final report and then send for trial. This is an exercise conducted by a professional and dignity is provided to all concerned. The facts or distantly derived stories from the digital social media repositories does not augur well either for investigation, the rights of the suspect or accused or for right to privacy, which has already been established by law. What propels the nature of stories out of these details is known but not important, what is of utmost value is the supply chain of illicit information.

If the criminal justice system is left unguarded from the pedlars of truth and justice, with objectivity and facts never being their forte, slowly but steadily it will eat into the vitals of the system. However much the official stakeholders claim to be unaffected by this ongoing jamboree, there is no denying the fact that the impact is always there. There has been no psychological study in this regard, if conducted, it would certainly come up with some very startling facts. The banyan tree coverage of crime camouflages the offence and make emotions run in wide and varied ways. We have opened up a can of worms out of a simple case by our acts of commission, omission and behaviour. We are at the crossroads of freedom of speech and expression, criminal investigation and privacy as a fundamental right.


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