Delhi HC lists for hearing in February pleas on Right to be Forgotten

The Delhi High Court on Friday listed for hearing in February a batch of petitions requesting removal of online content on them by invoking the right to privacy and the right to be forgotten.

Justice Navin Chawla granted time to the parties to complete the pleadings in the matter and also allowed Internet Freedom Forum to intervene by filing written submissions.

Counsel for one of the petitioners urged the court to pass a direction to search engine Google to block the search results pertaining to certain allegations against him in a criminal case since a closure report was subsequently filed by the investigating agency.

The senior lawyer appearing for Google, however, opposed the grant of such a relief in the absence of the websites, including media websites, hosting the content, saying “I can’t become a censor. I can’t become an instrument to whitewash history.”

Justice Chawla said although the information published by the websites might have been true at the relevant time, it was now “incomplete” in the face of subsequent filing of a closure report.

“There are multiple persons who made a legitimate comment at that time. With the passage of time, the comments now are incomplete or wrong,” the judge stated.

Central government lawyer informed the court that the framework under the updated intermediary rules provide for grievance redressal and oversight mechanisms, which can be availed to address the issues.

Observing that it would hear the matters, the court directed that the matter be listed next on February 12 and 13 at 2:30 pm.

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The petitioners include reality show celebrity Ashutosh Kaushik who has sought removal of certain videos, photos and articles relating to him from various online platforms, invoking the ‘right to privacy’ and the ‘right to be forgotten’.

The photos, videos and articles relate to him being taken to custody for an alleged offence of drunken driving in 2009.

Kaushik, who had won MTV Hero Honda Roadies 5.0 in 2007 and second season of Big Boss in 2008, sought urgent steps to safeguard his reputation and dignity by removing his videos, photos and other related articles from various online platforms.

Some petitions also concern removal of court orders from websites.

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