The Indian Daily, Indian Express recently reported that Ashutosh Kaushik, the Winner of Roadies 5.0 and Bigg Boss (2008), has approached the Hon'ble Delhi High Court with a petition to issue directions to have all internet content related to his various past sensitive incidents including a 2009 drunken driving case and an altercation at a Mumbai cafe in 2013 to be removed from the internet1.
The Petitioner has made the plea under his 'Right to be Forgotten', which has been recognized as a right inherent to the right to privacy enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India2. Right to be forgotten refers to the ability of individuals to erase, limit, delink, delete, or correct personal information on the internet that is misleading, embarrassing, irrelevant, or anachronistic.
Reportedly, the Petitioner has also stated that despite his successful career in the film industry, he still suffers from psychological torment caused by the numerous publications made about his erroneous actions committed a decade ago.
Delhi High Court on Right to be Forgotten- Jorawer Singh Mundy v. Union of India
The Counsel for the Petitioners in their have also relied on a recent judgment delivered by the Delhi High Court in the case of Jorawer Singh Mundy vs. Union of India & Ors.3 , wherein Hon'ble Justice Pratibha Singh provided interim protection to an American Citizen,namely Jorwar Singh Mundy who pleaded for a direction to to Indian Kanoon, a law information and case law repository, for removal of the Delhi High Court's verdict in a NDPS Act case, wherein the Plaintiff was the accused. Although he was acquitted of all charges in the impugned case, he asserted that the availability of the judgment online was a stain on his social image4. Expanding on this decision, the petition states that “That the Right to be Forgotten reflects the claim of an individual to have certain data deleted so that third persons can no longer trace them. The right enables a person to silence the past events of his life that are no longer occurring. Thus, the right to be Forgotten entitles individuals to have information, videos or photographs about themselves deleted from certain internet records so that search engines cannot find them.”
Right to be forgotten in India
Although the Indian law does not statutorily recognize the 'right to be forgotten' as distinctly as its provided under EU Data Protection Laws, in several cases the High Courts as well as the Supreme Court in the famous Aadhaar case while considering a citizen's right to be forgottem remarked that "If we were to recognize a similar right, it would only mean that an individual who is no longer desirous of his personal data to be processed or stored, should be able to remove it from the system where the personal data/information is no longer necessary, relevant, or is incorrect and serves no legitimate interest."
Section 20 of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 explicitly recognizes the 'right to be forgotten' and implementation of the Bill would allow persons a greater autonomy regarding the use of one's personal information on the internet.
An order in favor of the petitioner in the immediate case, along with the Delhi High Court judgment for the American citizen, would set a strong precedent backing the "right to be forgotten" in India.
2 Right to be forgotten has been recognized as an inherent right of an individual by the High Courts as well as the Supreme Court in the famous Aadhaar case (2017) 10 SCC 1
3 W.P.(C) 3918/2021
4 W.P.(C) 3918/2021
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.