On 23rd June, the Kerala High Court in the case of XXX v. State of Kerala observed that privacy is the core of Human dignity. While hearing the plea to remove details and images from media platforms of a woman. The woman was a victim of a trafficking case. While discussing the issue, the court observed inter alia that Privacy is the greatest expression of the individual’s sanctity.
Without privacy, an individual cannot have dignity. It is a constitutional principle based on basic rights. Individuals are guaranteed dignity by privacy and its attendant ideals. Fundamental rights are centred on dignity. The foundation of human dignity is privacy.
The petition was filed by the advocate PT Sheejish under Article 226 of the Constitution. The writ petition (on the criminal side) bearing no. 609 of 2023 was filed by the petitioner praying for immediate removal of images, defamatory articles and videos about the petitioner in light and interest of justice. The following advocates appeared on behalf of the petitioner – PT Sheejish, Aparna Devassia, Abdul Rahman, Tom Thomas
The Facts of the Case –
The petitioner was a certified Ayurvedic Therapist who along with some other women was charged as a victim of a crime by the Thodupuzha Police. Thereafter, her name and details were published on numerous websites and YouTube channels. This led to humiliation and cyber-attacks on the petitioner.
Being aggrieved by such humiliation, the petitioner filed a detailed complaint before the Superintendent of Police and the state house officer of the Idukki district. The alleged offence in this case was under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, of 1956. Due to such humiliation, the petitioner was finding it difficult to perform her profession. This circulation was encroaching upon her right to privacy.
The right to privacy was recognised by the Supreme Court of India in the case of KS Puttuswamy v. Union of India where the court observed that The legitimate expectation of privacy may differ from the intimate to the private and from the private to the public spheres, but it is crucial to stress that privacy is not lost or given up just because someone is in a public setting. Due to the importance of privacy as a component of a person’s dignity, privacy connects to them.
Since after filing of the complaint, no steps were taken. Therefore, she approached the Kerala high court for directions to remove such information from the platform. The case was filed on 14th June 2023. Originally, the case is filed for the offence against women and sexual offences involving children.
The Order passed –
After the filing of the case, when the hearing took place on 21st June 2023, the court presided over by Justice K. Babu ordered the removal of images. While hearing the matter, the court observed that the petitioner has filed a complaint with the Police chief for the removal of images, still, the images were not removed, causing grievances to the petitioner.
Therefore, the court ordered the Director General of Police along with the state police Chief to take steps to remove the said information which includes images, articles and videos of the petitioner from the online media platforms. This information causes a breach of the petitioner’s privacy. And therefore, liable to be removed.
The matter will be heard again on 27th June 2023.