Right To Privacy

Right to Privacy in an era of social media


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Articles 21

Mains level: issues over the Right to Privacy, Social media and privacy

Right to Privacy


  • The recent outrage over the unauthorized video of cricketing superstar Virat Kohli’s hotel room in Perth including glimpses of his private spaces and objects is best viewed through an understanding of the changed landscape of the “private” and the “public” in our times. It is a topography shaped through our engagements with social media of different kinds.

What does the Constitution say?

  • Fundamental right under Article.21: Article 21 is also known as the heart of the constitution; this right is granted to citizens of India as well as the non-citizens. This fundamental right not only talks about life and liberty but it also covers wide variety of rights.
  • Interpretation of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India and Anr (1978): The interpretation of the term Personal Liberty has been discussed in many cases and finally had a wider interpretation in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India and Anr (1978) here the Delhi Regional officer ordered the petitioner Maneka Gandhi to surrender her passport within 7 days without giving her proper reason for the same.
  • Supreme court on Personal liberty: The Supreme Court held that ‘Personal Liberty’ covered variety of rights and that such right could only be taken away according to the procedure established by law which had to be just, fair and reasonable and not arbitrary in nature. Personal liberty means various rights that provide for personal liberty of a person.
  • Right to privacy: In Article 21 the term Right to Life includes right to participate in activities, right to tradition, heritage, culture, livelihood and so on. One of the most important right to live also includes Right to Privacy. Each and every human being would want some privacy in their life. No one would want others to intrude in their private space and disturb the happiness and peace.

Right to Privacy

What is the Fight for right to Privacy?

  • Not in the original constitution: This right of privacy was not granted to the citizens for a long time and there had been a lot of debate going on about the same, there is no explicit provision in the constitution which emphasizes about the right to privacy.
  • Data is fundamental to the privacy: Even the data we save in our mobile phones and laptops are also our private data which needs to be protected, if the data is stolen our right to privacy is lost and fundamental right is infringed. Unprotected data causes a disturbance in the right to privacy.

Some of the Important cases related to right to privacy

  • Kharak Singh V. The State of U.P.(1962): The discussion about the right to privacy first came up in the case of Kharak Singh V. The State of U.P.(1962) Kharak Singh’s house was visited by the police at strange hours, frequently waking him up from his sleep, it was held by the court that this infringed his ‘right to life’ but however court dismissed the petitioner’s allegation that the shadowing of chronic criminals infringed on his right to privacy as at that time the right to privacy was not recognised as the Fundamental Right.
  • Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu (1994): With the case of R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu (1994) where this case prepared the way for subsequent decisions on the Right to Privacy, paving the way for it to be included in the Fundamental Rights given under Part III of the Constitution.
  • X v. Hospital Z case (1998): There are reasonable restrictions for this right about which it was held by the Supreme Court in the case of Mr. X v. Hospital Z (1998) here the appellant Mr. X was tested positive for HIV about which the doctors informed someone else without his consent because of which marriage of Mr. X was called off, the appellant approached the court stating that his right to privacy was violated. The court here held that this fact has to been known to the person whom he marries as this fact would affect her life as well as it being a communicable disease and that there is no violation to the ‘Right of Privacy’ of Mr. X.

Right to Privacy

The landmark case of K.S. Puttaswamy v/s Union Of India 2017.

  • Right to privacy is fundamental right: In the landmark case K.S. Puttaswamy V. Union of India which was passed in the year 2017, Right to Privacy was recognised as Fundamental Right and was then enshrined in Article 21 as a Right to life and personal liberty.
  • Social media endangered the privacy: Judges held that because there is enormous technical advancement both state and non-state factors may be at risk of loss of privacy, also it was held that an Individual is very concerned with his / her personal Data, they control their data and what to be posted on social media what to be displayed to the public and what to hide from outsiders, so unauthorized use of such information by anyone else except to whom that information belongs to may lead to violation of individuals privacy.
  • Privacy is integral to fundamental rights: On 24th August 2017 the nine-judge bench of India passed a unanimous historic Judgement with concurring opinions. Part III of the Indian constitution lays down different articles for the protection of one’s Fundamental Rights. The judgement stated privacy to be an integral component of Part III.
  • Overturning the previous judgements: The bench recognized that the right to privacy should also be a key element of Fundamental Rights and should be included in Article 21 of right to life and personal liberty. In this judgement the decisions given in the case of Kharak Singh V. The State of U.P. (1962) and MP Sharma V. Satish Chandra (1954) were overruled.

Right to Privacy


  • The great deal of hand wringing over the invasion of Virat Kohli’s privacy has been accompanied by seemingly endless circulation of the video clip. The line between outrage and enjoyment is as unclear as that between the alternating desire for publicity that ethereal frisson of celebrity-ness and revulsion over too much of it.

Mains Question

Q. How right to privacy is integral part of right to life? How social media affected the privacy of individual and enlist the solutions associated with it.

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1 year ago

This is a really good article. I think this is one of the best entries I’ve ever read. Your work is outstanding and motivating. I sincerely appreciate it. geometry dash


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