High court recognizes ‘right to be forgotten’


Karnataka High Court recently added the “right to be forgotten” to the long list of rights available to individuals in India. This right allows an individual to request removal of their personal information/data online.


In Sri Vasunathan v The Registrar General, the petitioner filed a writ petition seeking the removal of his daughter’s name from the high court’s digital record of a judgment passed by the court to the extent that it would not be visible for search engines such as Google and Yahoo. The petitioner’s daughter feared that the case would appear if someone did a search for her name and this could have repercussions even affecting her relationship with her husband and her reputation in the society.

The petitioner requested that the high court registry be directed to mask his daughter’s name in the cause title of the order passed in a petition filed by her husband and further, if her name appeared anywhere in the body of the order apart from the cause title, that the registry take steps to mask her name before releasing the order to any other service provider that may seek a copy of the order of the court.

The high court observed that in line with the trend in Western countries to recognize a “right to be forgotten” in sensitive cases involving women in general and highly sensitive cases involving rape or affecting the modesty and reputation of the person concerned, the registry must try to ensure that any internet search made in the public domain would not find the petitioner’s daughter’s name in the cause title or body of the judgment. However, the court refrained from making any changes in the high court website and in a certified copy of the judgment so her name would appear there.

The dispute digest is compiled by Bhasin & Co, Advocates, a corporate law firm based in New Delhi.
The authors can be contacted at lbhasin@bhasinco.in or lbhasin@gmail.com. Readers should not act on the basis of this information without seeking professional legal advice.