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Right To Be Forgotten- Delhi High Court Directs Google, Indian Kanoon To Remove/Block Judgment Of American Citizen Acquitted In NDPS Case

Nupur Thapliyal
25 May 2021 7:23 AM GMT
Right To Be Forgotten- Delhi High Court Directs Google, Indian Kanoon To Remove/Block Judgment Of American Citizen Acquitted In NDPS Case
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In a case involving the question of Right to Privacy of a person and Right to Information of public and maintenance of transparency in judicial records, the Delhi High Court recently granted interim protection to an American Citizen of Indian origin by directing Indian Kanoon to block the judgement of his acquittal under NDPS Act from being accessed by using search engines such as...

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In a case involving the question of Right to Privacy of a person and Right to Information of public and maintenance of transparency in judicial records, the Delhi High Court recently granted interim protection to an American Citizen of Indian origin by directing Indian Kanoon to block the judgement of his acquittal under NDPS Act from being accessed by using search engines such as Google/Yahoo etc.

A single judge bench comprising of Justice Pratibha Singh observed thus:

"It is the admitted position that the Petitioner was ultimately acquitted of the said charges in the case levelled against him. Owing to the irreparableprejudice which may be caused to the Petitioner, his social life and his career prospects, inspite of the Petitioner having ultimately been acquitted in the said case via the said judgment, prima facie this Court is of the opinion that the Petitioner is entitled to some interim protection, while the legal issues are pending adjudication by this Court."

The petitioner had travelled to India in 2009 and a case under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 was registered against him. However, he was vide judgment dated 30th April, 2011 acquitted by the trial court. On appeal, a single judge of the Delhi High Court upheld his acquittal vide judgment dated 29thJanuary, 2013.

The petitioner had then studied law after going back to the United States wherein he realised that he was facing a huge disadvantage due to the fact that the judgment rendered by the High Court was available on a google search to any potential employer, who wanted to conduct his background verificationbefore employing him.

It was thus the case of the petitioner that despite him having a good academic record, he was unable to get any employment to his expectations due to the availability of the said judgment online.

Legal notices were sent to Google India Private Ltd., Google LLC, Indian Kanoon and vLex.in. vLez.in had removed the aforesaid judgment from its portal. However, when the judgment was not removed from other platforms, a writ petition was filed seeking directions for the removal of the said judgment from all the Respondent platforms, recognizing the Right to Privacy of the Petitioner, under Article 21 of the Constitution.

While issuing notice in the matter, the Court ordered thus:

"The question as to whether a Court order can be removed from online platforms is an issue which requires examination of both the Right to Privacy of the Petitioner on the one hand, and the Right to Information of the public and maintenance of transparency in judicial records on the other hand. The said legal issues would have to be adjudicated by this Court."

Relying on the judgment of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1 recognising the right to privacy and also judgment given by the Orissa High Court in the case of Subhranshu Rout v. State of Odisha decided on 23rd November, 2020 wherein the Cout examined the aspect and applicability of the "Right to be forgotten" qua Right to Privacy including the international law, the Court prima facie observed that the Petitioner was entitled to some interim protection.

"Accordingly, Respondent Nos. 2 and 3 are directed to remove the said judgment dated 29th January 2013 in Crl.A.No. 14/2013 titled Custom v. Jorawar Singh Mundy from their search results. Respondent No.4 – Indian Kanoon is directed to block the said judgement from being accessed by using search engines such as Google/Yahoo etc., till the next date of hearing.Respondent No.1 to ensure compliance of this order." The Court directed.

In view of this, the Court posted the matter for further hearing on August 20 and directed the Respondents to file counter affidavits in the matter.

Title: JORAWER SINGH MUNDY @ JORAWAR SINGH MUNDY v. UNION OF INDIA & ORS.

Click Here To Read Order

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