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Mansi Aggarwal   02 March 2021

Right to privacy

Does a reasonable expectation of privacy exist even if an individual is not a citizen?

 6 Replies

avadhesh Paliwal   07 March 2021


Sushree Sipra   04 April 2021

When the question of Right to privacy arises in India, the Constitution of India does not differentiate between a citizen and foreign resident under Article 21. Since it is the most fundamental right that is guaranteed to individuals and is one that is attached to the living status of an individual, yet, it still does not give the right of residence to the Foreign individual as it is restricted under Articles 19 and 5-11 of the Consitution.

Sudhir Kumar (Dy Director)     14 April 2021

No facts have been disclosed.

Akhil Kamra   25 May 2021

Right to privacy is recognized as a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution. It has been “elevated and given the status of fundamental right by tracing it to Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India” by a nine Judge Bench judgment of K.S. Puttaswamy & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors, (2017) 10 SCC 1.

Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution extend protection to both citizens and non-citizens. Article 14 states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Article 21 provides: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” The word person in both the provisions is not restricted to citizens, rather it extends to the non-citizens as well. Thus, these Fundamental rights protect non-citizens as well.

In a 2013 judgment, it was highlighted that “The word 'person' in Article 21 is wide enough to cover not only citizens of this country but also foreigners who come to this country. The State has an obligation to protect the liberty of such foreigners who come to this country and ensure that their liberty is not deprived except in accordance with the procedure established by law.” [Isaac Isanga Musumba v. State of Maharashtra and ors., (2014) 15 SCC 357]

It is pertinent to note here that this right to Privacy, as a facet of Article 21, is not only applicable against the governmental actions but also provides protection against private individuals and corporations. This is evident from the fact that the central government and several High courts are considering the issues of privacy of both government apps (like Aarogya Setu) and private corporation apps (like Whatsapp).

Karnataka High Court in January 2021 ordered that the data collected from the users of Aarogya Setu app, which includes both citizens and non-citizen users, cannot be shared above and beyond what is specified in the privacy policy. Similarly, earlier this year (2021), the Delhi High Court directed an investigation in the issue of privacy policy of Whatsapp which may impact its users, both citizens and non-citizens, in India.

Hence, a reasonable expectation of privacy exists not only for citizens but also those individuals who are not a citizen of India. And non-citizens can approach the Supreme Court and the High Courts to enforce this Fundamental right and seek protection from the state.

Shreya Taneja   24 June 2021

When it comes to the right to privacy in India, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution makes no distinction between citizens and foreign residents. Despite the fact that it is the most fundamental right given to persons and is linked to one's living situation, it does not grant the right of residence to a foreign individual, since it is prohibited under certain Articles of the Constitution.No one shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except in accordance with legal procedure, says Article 21. The term "person" in both clauses does not refer just to citizens; it also refers to non-citizens. As a result, non-citizens are also protected by these Fundamental Rights.

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