Right to be Forgotten Available to Accused Once Acquitted: Madras HC

On Friday, the Madras High Court observed that an accused who was eventually acquitted of all charges would be entitled to get his name redacted from court orders to protect his right to privacy.

Hon’ble Justice N Anand Venkatesh made these observations after a man who was earlier accused of offences u/s 417 and 376 of IPC was acquitted of all charges by the High Court and had moved a plea to get his name redacted from court records.

It was argued that, after acquittal, the petitioner was no longer an accused in the eyes of the law. The Bench ruled that prima facie, merit in the petitioner’s case, and his name should be redacted from the court.

The Bench decided to write a detailed judgment on the issue and invited a response from Members of the Bar and the concerned authorities as well.

As per the Bench after Apex Court’s ruling in Puttaswamy vs Union of India, wherein the right to privacy was recognised as a fundamental right, the person can get his name redacted from court records.

Justice Vekatesh remarked that in today’s world, first impressions are created based on Google searches, even if the information is unauthentic. It was also noted that when someone types the petitioner’s name on google, court orders appear wherein he is shown as accused even though he got acquitted. This seriously impacts the reputation of the petitioner in the eyes of the law.

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The Bench further stated that the Centre was in the process of finalising the Data Protection Bill of 2019, which would effectively protect the privacy and data of persons.

A reference was also made to a recent Delhi High Court case that allowed redaction of the petitioner’s name in a similar case.

The Bench will hear the case of 28th July, and the Registry was asked to publish the order in Bar and Advocate’s Association in Madurai and Principal Bench of the High Court.

Read/Download Judgment

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