The Delhi High Court recently granted interim protection to an American Citizen of Indian Origin by ordering Indian Kanoon to block the judgement of his acquittal under the NDPS Act from being accessed through search engines such as Google/Yahoo, etc. in a case involving the question of a person's Right to Privacy and the public's Right to Information and the maintenance of transparency in judicial records.
Justice Pratibha Singh of a single-judge bench made the following observations: "It is a well-known fact that the Petitioner was finally acquitted of the accusations levelled against him in the case. Despite the fact that the Petitioner was finally acquitted in the said case via the said ruling, this Court believes that the Petitioner is entitled to some interim protection while the legal difficulties are being resolved."
The petitioner visited India in 2009, and a case was filed against him under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985. The trial court, however, acquitted him in a verdict dated April 30, 2011. In a ruling dated January 29, 2013, a solitary judge of the Delhi High Court affirmed his acquittal on appeal. After returning to the United States, the petitioner studied law and realised that he was at a significant disadvantage because the High Court's decision might be found on a google search by any possible employer who wanted to run a background check on him before hiring him.
The petitioner's plea was that, despite having a solid academic record, he was unable to find work that met his expectations owing to the Internet availability of the stated ruling. Google India Private Ltd., Google LLC, Indian Kanoon, and vLex.in have all received legal notices. The aforementioned ruling had been withdrawn from vLez.in's webpage. When the ruling was not removed from other platforms, a writ petition was filed, requesting that it be deleted from all Respondent sites and recognising the Petitioner's Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Court ruled the following when providing notice in the case: "The subject of whether a Court order can be deleted from online platforms is one that necessitates consideration of the Petitioner's Right to Privacy, as well as the public's Right to Information and the preservation of transparency in court records. This Court would have to rule on the aforementioned legal concerns." Based on the Supreme Court's decision in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1, which recognised the right to privacy, and the Orissa High Court's decision in Subhranshu Rout v. State of Odisha, which examined the aspects and applicability of the "Right to be Forgotten" qua Right to Privacy, including international law, the Court prima facie found that the "Right to be Forgotten" qua Right to Privacy.
"As a result, Respondents Nos. 2 and 3 are ordered to remove the above-mentioned judgement dated January 29, 2013 in Crl.A.No. 14/2013 captioned Custom v. Jorawar Singh Mundy from their search results. Respondent No.4 - Indian Kanoon has been ordered to prevent the abovementioned judgement from being viewed by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and others until the next hearing date. Respondent No. 1 is responsible for ensuring that this order is followed." The Court gave the order.
As a result, the Court set a new hearing date for August 20 and ordered the Respondents to file rebuttal affidavits in the case.