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Rights and Freedom of Media with a special reference to privacy rights in India

India is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was adopted in 1966. These two main international instruments laid the basis for the world's major democracy and constitutions.

In comparison to the right to freedom of speech and expression, all of these instruments place the right to privacy in a separate and higher role. The right to freedom of the press is enshrined in the right to freedom of speech and expression. These two privileges are polar opposites of the same coin. As a result, unless the right to privacy is given equal weight in Indian law to the right to freedom of speech and expression, democracy will be seriously hampered, and violations of citizens' rights will increase. This gave me the idea of thinking about the intrusion of media in the personal space of some known personalities.

By birth mankind acquires a special kind of natural right i.e. speech. By speech a person expresses one�s self. Freedom of speech and expression is the fundamental right to imparted in the Article 19(1) of the constitution of India.

Privacy means a personal space where a person is secluded from the public eye. Life without privacy is impossible. According to Spencer, �it is a continuous accommodation of maintain internal relations to external relation.

A person maintains his inner and outer behavior according to the demands of the society. It is a sense of behaving in a way which would be socially acceptable. Privacy is basically an absolute right but its limitation imposing, restricting one to invade in other�s personal space. Every one of us has surrendered an extensive piece of our protection to take part in the so called democratic governance.

In this contract oriented society it is a concept of reciprocity. Every pre-requisite has a price tag on it which in most of the cases is privacy. For example- we provide our family and bank details to the government or any private company to get our ration or credit card issued. This data can thus harvest benefits for the organization whenever given to offices who offer it to showcase arranged organizations for promoting their items. A data which is accordingly given in trust presently gets public.

This is just one case in which for an aggregate right of the general public to get advantage, security, an individual right is forfeited. Privacy is indeed a difficult concept, where people become ironic when it comes its performance. Because a person believes in privacy but he also fits CCTV Cameras in the office, allow credit card details to show in the bank to open an account, and even allows a camera man to enter homes. All in all, public interest is given more importance than individual interest.

The public authority should secure the protection rights however they comprise the biggest office gathering tremendous measures of information of its residents for the issuance of social advantages, and this information someway discovers its approach to reevaluating organizations, and the entirety matter comes in the public space. When police enters our homes at night, it hampers the individual rights, but they do this on the pretext of public rights.

For a democratic country like India, the media should be sensible, responsible, informative and mature enough to build up a society. The main motive of our governance is to invite a varied opinion. However, this didn't occur in light of the fact that as the media turned out to be incredible being the lone archive of data to the public, different interests crawled into its texture.

These interests went under the appearance of rivalry, commercialization, legislative issues and force campaigning of the public authority. The consequence of all these are weakening of morals, ethical quality furthermore, even lack of respect for singular protection and opportunity. The freedom of media if not have restrictions then the public right will be hampered vigorously. Press is an integral part of any democratic set up.

Shall media be given an unrestricted opportunity to engender their interest? Now a days, it has become breaking news creation and not a news coverage. This includes intrusion into security and makes serious harm their standing and societal position. This raises the need of securing the protection of people. Thus this study covers , how far Indian laws are effective, when freedom of media and rights of privacy comes in a conflict?

Research Objective
  1. To understand the nature and scope of freedom of media
  2. To understand how courts take on the cases of violating privacy
  3. To examine the rights and freedom of media invading in personal space of known personalities

Research Methodology
The research that will be conducted is strictly theological and non-empirical. The focus is on analyzing statutory provisions and Supreme Judicial cases, as well as court reasoning. The study's main goal is to look at the evolution of privacy jurisprudence in India, as well as the role of the Parliament and the judiciary in recognizing the right to privacy as a basic right in different jurisdictions.

The research will also examine India's existing stance on data privacy and the challenges it faces as a result of a lack of adequate privacy law. The study also focuses on addresses some contemporary concerns impacting privacy rights and how to strike a balance in such situations.

History of Media and Right to Privacy


Under the editorship of James Augustus Hickey, the Bengal gazette the first newspaper of India was disseminated in 1980. On May 30, 1826 Udant Martand (The increasing Sun), the primary Hindi-language newspaper in print in India, began out from Calcutta (now Kolkata), published each Tuesday via way of means of Pt. Jugal Kishore Shukla.[1]

The Bombay Herald, the Statesmen in Calcutta and the Madras Mail and The Hindu, together with many different opponents in Madras stood for the representations made with the aid of using people of India. While Statesman became into print and media of English rulers, The Hindu have become the guiding mild of people�s patriotism in the South a part of India. In counteract to the Madras Mail, the Hindu became founded in Madras.[2]

Knowledge became the tool for freedom struggle with patriotism becoming directly proportional to colonial insensitivity. At that point of time journalist acted as nationalists and professionals. Urban revitalization of information propagated in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Delhi. Regional language newspapers have become popular in 1970�s, specially after Indira Gandhi lost elections in 1977. There were voices of nationalist that echoed from different linguistics nearby provinces like Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil, Kerala, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh posted dailies in nearby languages. As communalism and non secular intolerance improved earlier than and after partition, Urdu have become often the language of human beings in Pakistan.

Right to Information is a significant step taken by the government of India. The greater part of the data assembled is unclear and unfeasible which is neither relevant nor makes any use of the authority to depend on. Media can utilize the information which they acquire through this aforementioned act and can impact individuals with their privileges and liabilities. After this presence the straightforwardness between the Government hardware and individuals have expanded to manifolds.

The method of getting the data through the demonstration is made simpler by composing an application alongside a ten rupees postal request and the progressive system is at risk for any sort of deferral in giving data and Central Vigilance Commission exclusively administers that why the data looked for isn't given on schedule. In United States and Canada, the privilege to data law has been utilized generally by the media.[3]

UNO Summit

The World Summit at the Information Society (WSIS, 2005) held conference one in Geneva in year 2003 and 2nd one in Tunis in year 2005 with schedule of Information Technology issues. Nothing a lot become executed on privacy worries on this summit and become absolutely overlooked and counted number of securing countrywide interests.


The first time when the right to privacy has come up was in the year 1954 4 in MP Sharma vs Satish Chandra Case, District Magistrate Delhi, where it was alleged that the company had made fraudulent transactions to embezzle funds and deceit and conceal the shareholders of the company, Union government instructed for investigation under the Companies Act. And after the investigation, the offences were found true.

In the year 1964 in Kharak Singh versus State of UP, the Supreme Court had the matter to consider the extent of this right when the power of close watch on habitual criminals by the requirements of the U.P. Police rules came to be challenged as violating of Articles 19(1) (d) and Article 21 of the establishment.

Privacy and its evolution

Improvement in the later years in which instances, Govind vs State of M.P and R. Rajagopal vs State of T.N case, privacy has been precise as proper to be left unaccompanied and held that each inhabitant has a right to guard the privacy of which they own or are associated with which include their akin�s, wedding, recreation, parenthood, child-bearing and coaching etc.

No it is easy to convey out something thing referring to the above noted instances without his approval whether without delay or in any other case and whether commending. If anyone invading someone�s private space would be punished. Position may, however, be now no longer the same, if any one wishfully propels himself into argument or of own accord creates a distinction and this rule has been laid subjected to convinced exceptions.

This issue again took a pace in the year 2011 in UID Aadhar Scheme Case where Division Bench of 3 judges of the Court, while examined UID Aadhar card scheme of government that obtaining and retaining the demographic and personal data which incorporates retina scanning and finger prints of the residents of India. And this case was then passed to a 9 judges bench where it held that in its decision had held that right to Privacy is an immutable innate element of Article 21 of Constitution of India. And we have to amend them according to the growing technological advancements.

Laws and Judgments on Privacy and Media

Public opinion and Role of Media

It is almost impossible to live in a democratic culture without having the freedom of thought, voice, and expression as a civil right. The public opinion has a deciding role in Indian organizations when it comes to making laws and making pronouncements that affect the whole society's organization. In a democracy, public opinion and public sentiment is considered as important factor in its working. Due to media its fulfillment and accessibility have turn out to be one of the foremost additives of public view.

Therefore it turns into a political hero in a democracy due to the fact the achievement of democratic structure requires a knowledgeable and collaborating public. The contemporary-day politics is, skilled with the aid of using maximum people by the print and broadcast media in their option. The function of media has come to be imperative to politics and public existence in current democracy.

Though, political scientists lack consensus on the problem and that they dispute whether or not the media are triumphing or not and whether or not their effect on politics is wonderful or bad for democracy, as a result the media are believed to play an essential function in imparting residents with a complete and truthful account of the information and huge variety of political opinion on it. At the start of the nineteenth century, politically aware Indians had been attracted to modern civil rights, specially the liberty of the Press.[4]

Privacy Bill 2011

Everyone shall have a right to privacy and will be secured together along with his email�s, name details, messages and different modes of communication. Privacy accrues to many things, it includes letters, talks with anyone, vocational excursions and most significantly pics snapped at occasions and secrecy of own circle of relatives life, marriage, wife, children, protection from search, detention or exposure of lawful correspondence between and amongst persons.

Financial function of any individual is also a crucial factor in the society, nobody desires to expose their economic situation to any one which incorporates their financial institution passbooks, account balances etc. This bill additionally safeguards from identification theft, which incorporates imitating or developing a forged proof and posing as if every other individual has devoted a criminal offense and maximum of not unusual place kind of duping people round is acquiring or the usage of others identity to achieve credit, items and services.

The bill places a ban on unsolicited surveillance of communications besides from primary consent with an officer in charge or police and it will be in interest of state. It makes obligatory demolition of surveillance of the facts in months of discontinuance of interception. The bill makes provisions for charter of a Central Communication Interception Review Committee to check out and determine the surveillance policies and regulations drafted and is empowered to render locating that such interception overlooked Section 5 of the Indian Telegraphs Act and that the intercepted bits and portions ought to be destroyed immediately.

It additionally forbids observations both with the aid of using following a anyone or closed circuit tv or different digital or with the aid of using some other mode, besides insure instances as in step with the specified process. Anyone who has a workplace in India however has information the use of gear located in India shall bring together or processor use or launch any information regarding character to any individual without permission of such individual.

The bill held the accomplishment of Data protection authority of India. The Authority can take a look at information protection violate and issue guidelines to guard the protection pursuits of affected people in the individual information that has or is probable to had been compromise with the aid of using such breach. The bill makes contravention of the provisions on interception an offence sporting a punishment of with custody for a time period that may also complete as much as 5 years or with fine, which may also enlarge to Rs. 1 lakh or with both for every one such interception.

Media vs Privacy

Because of the media, the right to privacy has been a sensitive topic for some time. Anxiety and depression are connected. The right to privacy is not protected by legislation. It is judged appropriate given the circumstances. Articles 19 and 21 are two of the most important articles of the Constitution. It began to be concerned about comparable rights to information in 2013. The right to privacy has been affirmed, particularly in the instance of the Nira Radia tapes.[5]

Supreme Court Judgment on Privacy

In a recent judgment, the SC of India said that the right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

The following points from the Supreme Court judgment will make it comprehensible:

  1. First and foremost, privacy arises from Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which stems from the right to life and individual liberty. Elements of privacy arise in a variety of circumstances, ranging from dignity to the fundamental rights protected in Part III of the Constitution
  2. The Supreme Court decision acknowledged the existence of a fundamental right to privacy, but it did not amend the Constitution or address legislative bodies.
  3. According to the Supreme Court's judgment, privacy protects a person's self-esteem and dignity. Privacy protects the principles that underpin the rights to life, liberty, and freedom; it also protects people's rights and well-being, which are integral to liberty's foundation.[6]
  4. Individuals' personal lives, the sanctity of family life, marriage, home, sex life, and emotion sharing are all protected by privacy. Independence protects and preserves an individual's existence by recognizing a person's ability to govern critical or significant aspects of his or her existence.
  5. The right to privacy, like other fundamental rights included in Part III, such as the right to life and personal freedom under Article 21, is not entirely a stated right.

Government on Social Media

The judiciary is concerned about protecting and maintaining user data. Recent examples of 'Data Analytica' and Whatsapp's altering privacy policy demonstrate that even the government wants privacy to be protected, and that messages, photographs, and videos exchanged on such apps should not be exposed.[7] Because offensive or secular posts might impact the masses, the government has created guidelines that require them to be removed within minutes of publication.

Aside from the pleasant effects and simplicity of usage for the general populace, it may also be lethal when employed in conflicts and riots. Because Whatsapp is the firm with the greatest database of users, estimated to be 200 million, everyone uses it to stay connected all over the world, with the exception of select countries, such as Dubai, where whatsapp calling and video calling are not permitted.

Whatsapp denied following the government's norms and regulations, resulting in a controversy. Numerous incidences of data being released through such programes have resulted in girls and boys committing suicide, according to crime reporting. Some tough measures will be implemented to keep a close check on such incidents and the causes of such crimes.

The government also instructed every cyber cell workers, each stationed at district headquarters, to monitor any such remarks or discussions. The government is developing a strategy that will keep a close eye on social media to see if it is being used to plot against India and generate anti-national sentiment.

Government on Privacy Laws

Government on searching on the wishes to formulate a few regulations for offering comfort to those who are liable to assaults or are concerned approximately their records thefts or unsolicited surveillance, a committee turned into devised which constituted people having knowledge from Ministry of Electronics and IT to put together a draft for records safety regulation and discover the demanding situations for records safety in our Country and the committee turned into headed via way of means of Justice B N Sri krishna, former decide of Supreme Court of India.[8]

Celebrity Privacy Rights

The concept of individuality underpins the right to privacy. Celebrities try to keep their personal lives hidden from the public eye. Article 21 of the Indian constitution recognizes the right to privacy as a fundamental right. The right in question isn't stated in the Constitution at all. The four separate freedoms protected by the right to privacy rubric are:[9]
  1. The right to keep sensitive information from being made official
  2. The freedom to intrude into a person's solitude and to avoid prying into a person's personal affairs.
  3. Stay away from fake light publicity, and
  4. Prevent the misappropriation of a person's identity and image.

The court held in R. RajaGopal vs. State of Tamil Nadu that no one should publish anything about families, marriage, procreation, motherhood, childbearing, or schooling without the consent of the person. If he does, he will be infringing on the individual's right to privacy, and will be responsible for damages in a civil suit. This is the first time a court has found that an individual's right to privacy would be violated if his name or image is used without his consent for advertising or non-advertising purposes, or for some other reason.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court ruled in the seminal case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India in 2017 that:
�The right to privacy is one of the liberties guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution and is covered under Article 21 as an integral aspect of the right to life and personal liberty.�

People of high status, dignitaries, people in positions of influence, celebrities, and others are often the target of careless claims, most of which are made secretly, and which have the potential to ruin their lives and eliminate their needless presence in cases. Media criticism of public figures does not escalate to the extent of intimidation of public figures and their families.[10]

In a climate of fierce rivalry among media outlets, news often transforms into factual misrepresentation and sensationalism. Commercial interests often promote invasive newsgathering techniques, which often infringe on the rights of others who are the target of certain media. There is an urgent need to keep a balance between freedom of media and the privacy right.

The problem that needs to be addressed is not only the form or specifics of India's potential privacy laws, but also the need to put in place a privacy law regulation regime that can address emerging privacy concerns in the light of new technical forms of communication within a realistic time frame. We want a life of decent living without the interference of the public domain. So this area needs a high attention of the law makers.

Books referred:
  1. The Right To Privacy in India by Gaurav Goyal
  2. Constitutional Questions and Citizens Rights by A.G. Noorani
End Notes:
  1. American model of Communication Association 442
  2. newspaper history in India is inextricably tangled with political history," wrote A. E. Charlton (Wolseley 3)
  3. Universal declaration of human rights
  4. observations of Historian Bipan Chandra, Chandra & Others, 1987pp.102
  6. Pareesh Virmani,Vallabha Gulati,Prachi Bhati:�Aadhar Act: A Jurisprudential conundrum that entails
    invasiveness and breaches of privacy�:Asia Pacific Law & Policy Review Volume 4(Annual)-July 2008
  8. Surabhi Agarwal; Justice BN Srikrishna to head committee for data protection framework; The Economic Times
  9. T Vidya Kumari, Celebrity Rights as a Form of Merchandise- Protection under the Intellectual Property Regime, 9 JIPR 120, 122 (2004)
  10. Kishwar Jahan and Ors. vs. State of West Bengal and Ors., 2008 (3) CHN 857.
List of abbreviations
  1. CCTV- closed- circuit television
  2. SC- Supreme Court
  3. RTI- Right to Information
  4. UID- Unique Identification Number
  5. AIR- All India Reporter
  6. SCC- Supreme Court Cases
Table of cases:
  • MP Sharma And others vs Satish Chandra 1954 AIR 300,1954 SCR 1077
  • Kharak Singh vs State of U.P. and others 1963 AIR 1295,1964 SCR (1) 332
  • Govind vs State of MP AND Anr
  • R. Rajagopal vs State of T.N. 1995 AIR 264
  • Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India in 2017 (2017) 10 SCC 1

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