Indian Constitution reinforces the right to be forgotten

X v. The Registrar General, High Court of Karnataka & Ors.

The relevance of the right to be forgotten in cyberspace is being extensively addressed by courts in India. Through a simple online search, users now have access to the judgments of the Constitutional Courts through their websites and other third-party intermediaries.

In addition, publishers and the e-Courts website of Indian Courts have also started to provide access to judgments, decrees and orders of the District Judiciary and other trial courts.

This has led to litigants approaching the courts to seek redaction or deletion of their names or personal data from judgments.


In Writ Petition No. 25557 of 2023 before the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, the petitioner sought to conceal his name in the digital records of the court on the grounds that whenever the name of the petitioner was put into a search engine, it revealed that he had been accused of a crime although he had been acquitted.

Court upholds the right to be forgotten

Mr. Justice Nagaprasanna of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in a judgment dated 28th February 2024 observed that the right to life as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India includes the right to live with dignity. The court also held that the law relating to the right to be forgotten is dynamic, much like the Constitution of India.

The Court observed that “The right to oblivion; the right to be forgotten are principles evolved by democratic nations, as a facet of the right to informational privacy. Countries like France and Italy have by themselves evolved the concept of a right to oblivion, which dates back to the 19th century. Europe, in the European Union has, over privacy and personal data, evolved the principle of a right to be forgotten, as a right to be a part of one’s right to personality, which encompasses dignity, honour and the right to a private life.”

Relying on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1, the court held that details of individuals in certain circumstances should not be permitted to remain online, as it is the antithesis of the right to be forgotten. The court held that the right to be forgotten is a basic right under the right to informational privacy.

The court observed that the Personal Data Protection Bills, 2018 and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 also recognize the right to erasure or to be forgotten.

The petition was allowed with the observation that: “The direction would be only to enable the internet to forget, like humans forget. If it is allowed to stay on record, the internet will never permit humans to forget.”


This judgment has made it clear that the law concerning the right to be forgotten in cyberspace is an evolving concept and relates to rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution as well as in recent legislation such as the Digital Personal Data Protection Act.  Those seeking to have their personal data removed or hidden have a right to do so based on the right to informational privacy.



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