Important Judgements In News

Balancing right to be forgotten with fair criticism and accountability

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Right to be forgotten

The article discusses the interplay between right to be forgotten and the right of the public to access courts of record, concepts of fair criticism and accountability.

Context

The Delhi High Court recently ordered the removal of one of its own judgments from easy access. The High Court recognised that the petitioner may have a right to be forgotten, which must be balanced with the right of the public to access courts of record.

Right to be forgotten

  • In 2017, the Supreme Court recognised the right to be forgotten as being under the ambit of the right to privacy (specifically, informational privacy) under the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court observed that a lot of personal information may serve no “legitimate interest”, was “incorrect”, or was not “necessary” or “relevant”.
  • For now, individuals may request data hosts to take down some content, and it may be taken down based on the policies of the respective hosts.
  • There is a general consensus that people should be allowed to modify or delete information uploaded by themselves.
  • However, whether this extends to information uploaded by third parties is uncertain.
  • The right to be forgotten is, generally, the right to have information about a person removed from public access.

Balancing between right of the public

  • The Delhi High Court recognised that the petitioner may have a right to be forgotten, which must be balanced with the right of the public to access courts of record.
  • Judgments are published for good reasons.
  • Trials held under public scrutiny act as a check against judicial caprices and help in enhancing the confidence of the public in the fairness and objectivity of the administration of justice.
  • The Supreme Court has made is clear that the right to be forgotten was subject to reasonable restrictions based on countervailing rights such as free speech.

Consider the question “What is right to be forgotten and how it is related to the right to privacy? Examine the issues related to the implementation of the right to be forgotten.”

Way forward

  • The High Court could have ordered that the name and personal details of the petitioner be redacted while maintaining public access to the judgment itself.

Conclusion

The right to be forgotten needs to be studied along with the concepts of fair criticism and accountability.

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