The issue arose in a plea wherein though the petitioner had been acquitted of all charges, his name got reflected in the judgment rendered by the court and whoever typed the name of the petitioner in Google search was able to access the judgment. Based on this, he wanted his name redacted from the judgment as it affected his reputation in society.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh before whom the plea came up, on noting that today’s world is under the grips of social media and a person’s background can be assessed by everyone, said, “There is no assurance that the information secured from Google is authentic. However, it creates a first impression and it will make or mar a person’s character in the eyes of society.” “In today’s world, everyone is trying to portray himself or herself in the best possible way on social media. This is a new challenge and all are grappling to deal with these complexities,” he said. Further, Justice Venkatesh while mentioning the SC judgment which held Right to Privacy as a fundamental right, said, “If the essence of this judgment is applied to the case on hand, obviously even a person who was accused of committing an offence and who has been subsequently acquitted will be entitled for redacting his name from the order to protect his Right of Privacy.” “This court finds that there is a prima facie case made out by the petitioner and he is entitled for redacting his name from the judgment passed by this court in 2011,” the judge held. However, on noting that since the issue came up for the first time before this court, Justice Venkatesh sought the HC registry and the State to make a written submission and the Members of the Bar to assist the court to understand the various ramifications before writing a detailed judgment on this issue. The court also recorded that when a similar issue came up before the Delhi High Court recently, interim orders were passed directing the websites concerned to redact the name of the petitioner therein.
Also, on observing that the Centre is in the process of finalising the Data Protection Bill 2019, the court also noted that till date, the Legislature has enacted laws protecting the identity of victims, who are women and children and their names are not reflected in any order. “But this right has not been extended to an accused person who is acquitted from all charges,” the court added while posting the plea for final arguments on July 28.