Right to be Forgotten

  • IASbaba
  • June 29, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-2: Social empowerment and Fundamental Rights
  • GS-2: Judiciary and their role

Right to be Forgotten

Context: The Delhi high court recently granted relief to a petitioner seeking to exercise his “right to be forgotten”.

  • The petitioner, who was earlier acquitted in a narcotics case, appealed for the removal of the judgment of his acquittal from online platforms such as Google and Indian Kanoon.
  • This is not the first case of this kind in India and it will not be the last dealing with such issues.

The right to be forgotten

  • It is a right to have one’s personal information removed from publicly available sources on certain grounds.
  • It has its roots in the French right of oblivion which allows for individuals who have been convicted of a crime to prevent the publication of facts about the crime.
  • However, RTBF gained currency after the 2014 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in the Google Spain case
  • RTBF went on to be incorporated in Article 17 of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation which came into effect in 2018.

RTBF in India

  • In India, RTBF has not attained legislative sanction yet. 
  • So far, the Supreme Court has not dealt with a case directly on the RTBF issue. 
  • Different high courts have adjudicated upon such requests. The Gujarat high court refused the application by an accused in 2014 while the high courts of Karnataka (2017) and Orissa (2020) have allowed masking the name of victims in criminal proceedings, recognising their right to privacy.

Arguments for RTGF

  • Information on adverse judgments against an individual or an entity might be harmful to their reputation, hence they have the right to be forgotten
  • RTBF is also considered as integral part of the individual’s right to privacy. 

Arguments against

  • RTBF is clashing against the society’s right to know
  • It may not be suitable to be applied for judicial proceedings as RTBF may harm the transparency/openness of judicial process.
  • Open courts promote transparency and help make the judiciary more accountable.

Way Ahead 

  • There is a need for clear directives on how the RTBF can be applied in specific situations. 
  • The Supreme Court is best placed to come up with a policy on the implementation of RTBF by courts.
  • At a time when the judiciary is entering Phase III of its ambitious eCourts project, rights such as RTBF will have to be coded into any technology solution that is developed for judicial data storage and management

Connecting the dots:

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