Right To Privacy

Delhi HC observations on Right to be Forgotten


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 21

Mains level: Right to be Forgotten

The Delhi High Court upheld the view that the “Right to Privacy” includes the “Right to be Forgotten” and the “Right to be Left Alone”.

Right to be Forgotten in India

  • The Right to be Forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament.
  • In 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict.
  • The court said at the time that “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.

What was the recent case?

  • The TV celebrity had moved Delhi High Court with the plea that orders be issued to Google and relevant entities to facilitate the removal of posts, videos, articles and any information related to incidents that he was involved.
  • His plea cited that his presence on the internet is a source of “utmost psychological pain” to him.

Legal issues

  • India does not have a law yet on right to be forgotten.
  • In the meantime, the Information Technology Rules, 2011 — which is the current regime governing digital data — does not have any provisions relating to the right to be forgotten.
  • The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill was tabled in Parliament in 2019 and is being examined by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

Key features of PDP Bill

  • Personal Data: Section 20 of the PDP Bill says that a ‘data principal’ — or the person who generates the data or to whom the information pertains — can rightfully ask a ‘data fiduciary’, which is any entity that stores or processes such data, to “restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of his personal data” in specific circumstances.
  • Purpose of data: To seek the erasure of data, it is necessary to establish that it “has served the purpose for which it was collected or is no longer necessary for the purpose; was made with the consent of the data principal.
  • Right to be forgotten: The Bill says that the right to be forgotten can be enforced only on an order of an adjudicating officer following an application filed by the data principal.
  • Contravention with Free Speech: However, the decision on whether the right to be forgotten can be granted with respect to any data will depend on whether it contravenes “the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to information of any other citizen”.

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