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Tapping of telephone

 Tapping telephone

 Right to privacy is a right which an individual possesses by birth. Privacy, simply means the 

right of an individual to be left alone which is recognised by common law.

The Preamble of Indian Constitution guarantees liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith 

and worship to all the citizens of the country. A paralysis of Art. 21 of the Indian Constitution 

which includes the word “personal liberty” reveals that for an individual to lead a dignified 

life, his/her liberty should be protected which ultimately demand right to privacy to be given 

legal recognition.

The Right to privacy can be both negatively and positively defined1

.The negative right to 

Privacy entails the individuals are protected from unwanted intrusion by both the state and 

private actors into their life, especially features that define their personal identity such as 

sexuality, religion and political affiliation, i.e.; the inner core of a person’s private life.

The positive right entails an obligation of states to remove obstacles for an autonomous 

shaping of individual identities.

[31/01/2022, 4:44 pm] Dinesh VLS: According to Black’s Law Dictionary; Privacy means “right to be let alone; the right of a 

person to be free from any unwarranted publicity; the right to live without any interference by 

the public in matters with which public is not necessarily concerned”.

Right to privacy is not enumerated as a Fundamental Right in Constitution of India. Art. 21 of 

Constitution of India states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty 

except according to procedure established by law”.

Dinesh VLS: The first time this topic was ever raised was in the case of Kharak Singh v. State of UP where the Supreme Court held that Regulation 236 of UP Police regulation was unconstitutional as it clashed with Article 21 of the Constitution. It was held by the Court that the right to privacy is a part of right to protection of life and personal liberty. Here, the Court had equated privacy to personal liberty.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India. In this case Public Interest Litigation was filed protesting rampant instances of phone tapping of politician’s phones by CBI. The court ruled that ‘telephone conversation is an important facet of a man’s private life’. The right to hold a telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office without interference can certainly be claimed as “right to privacy”. So, tapping of telephone is a serious invasion of privacy. This means that telephone tapping would infract Article 21 unless it is permitted under the procedure established by law. The procedure has to be “just, fair and reasonable”.


. Rajagopal vs. State of T.N also known popularly as the Auto Shankar Case. A prisoner had written his autobiography in jail describing the conditions there and the nexus between prisoners and several IAS and IPS officers. He had given the autobiography to his wife so that she may publish it in a particular magazine. However, the publication was restrained in various matters and the question arose whether anyone has the right to be let alone and particularly in jail.

It was held to be implicit in Article 21. “It is the right to be left alone”. A citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child bearing and education among many other matters. In this case right of a prisoner to privacy recognised

[31/01/2022, 5:01 pm] Dinesh VLS: whether or not privacy is a fundamental rightconsidering the constitutional challenge to the Aadhaar framework. 

Fact of the case : 

This case was initiated through a petition filed by Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court in relation to the Aadhaar Project, which was spearheaded by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).The petition filed by Justice Puttaswamy was a case which sought to challenge the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar card scheme. 

Issue of this case: Whether the right to privacy was a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution of India


The Supreme Court, through six separate opinions, pronounced privacy to be a distinct and independent fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.Court overruled the judgments in M.P. Sharma, and Kharak Singh, insofar as the latter held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right. The Bench established that privacy was “not an elitist construct”. It rejected the argument of the Attorney General that the right to privacy must be forsaken in the interest of welfare entitlements provided by the state. Significantly, while holding that the right to privacy was not absolute in nature.

 Shreya Singhal v. Union Of India. 

The facts of the case: The Police arrested two women under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 for posting allegedly offensive and objectionable comments on Facebook about the shutting down of Mumbai city after the death of a political leader.Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 made it a punishable offence for any person to send 'grossly offensive' or 'menacing' information using a computer resource or communication device. The provision also made it punishable to persistently send information which the sender knows to be false for annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will. 

The Court held that Section 66-A was vague and over-broad, and therefore fell foul of Article 19(1)(a), since the statute was not narrowly tailored to specific instances of speech which it sought to curb. Importantly, the Court also considered the 'chilling effect' on speech caused by vague and over-broad statutory language as a rationale for striking down the provision. Further, the Court held that the 'public order' restriction under Article 19(2) of the Constitution would not apply to cases of 'advocacy', but only to 'incitement', specifically incitement which has a proximate relation to public disorder