Delhi High Court orders removal of an order from online platforms The Court granted interim relief to an American citizen on his plea under Right to be Forgotten in an NDPS case, in which he was acquitted The Delhi High Court (HC) has granted interim relief to an American Citizen acquitted in a Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) case under Right to be Forgotten and...
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Delhi High Court orders removal of an order from online platforms
The Court granted interim relief to an American citizen on his plea under Right to be Forgotten in an NDPS case, in which he was acquitted
The Delhi High Court (HC) has granted interim relief to an American Citizen acquitted in a Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) case under Right to be Forgotten and directed Google, other online search engines and Indian Kanoon to remove its January 2013 order.
The petitioner, a US law graduate of Indian origin, had moved the court saying he was finding it difficult to land a good job as his potential employers search his background online and read about his alleged involvement in an NDPS case.
"It is the admitted position that the Petitioner was ultimately acquitted of the said charges in the case levelled against him. Owing to the irreparable prejudice 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," a single-judge bench of Justice Pratibha Singh observed.
A case under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 was registered against the petitioner when he had travelled to India in 2009. However, he was, vide judgment dated 30 April 2011, acquitted by the trial court. On appeal, a single judge of the Delhi High Court had upheld his acquittal vide judgment dated 29 January 2013.
The HC has issued notice on this matter and posted it for further hearing on 20 August. The Respondents have been asked to file counter-affidavits in the matter.
The petitioner had sent legal notices to Google India Private Ltd., Google LLC, Indian Kanoon and vLex.in.
vLex.in had removed the aforesaid judgment from its portal. However, when the judgment was not removed from other platforms, he filed a writ petition seeking directions for the removal of the said judgment from all the Respondent platforms, recognizing his Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
"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," the HC observed.
The HC relied on the judgment of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1 recognising the Right to Privacy as well as the judgment delivered by the Orissa High Court in the case of Subhranshu Rout v. State of Odisha of 23 November 2020 wherein the Court 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 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.