Right to be Forgotten refers to the ability to have some publicly available personal information about an individual erased from the internet, search engines, databases, websites, or any other public platform.

The Right to be Forgotten has been recognised by the law in the European Union under the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and has been affirmed by many courts in the United Kingdom and Europe, however, there is no similar law in India.

The Supreme Court recognised the Right to Privacy in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India as an intrinsic part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and this is what the Right to be Forgotten has been linked to.

The Honourable Supreme Court specifically observed that the right of an individual to exercise control over his personal data encompasses his right to control his existence on the internet.

The Karnataka High Court in Sri Vasunathan v. The Registrar General took a quite different approach and recognized the Right to be Forgotten specifically and ruled that: Insensitive cases involving women in general and highly sensitive cases involving rape or affecting the modesty and reputation of the person concerned. It was said that this was being done in line with the trend in various western countries.

In Zulfiqar Ahman Khan v. Quintillion Businessman Media, Zulfiqar Ahman Khan petitioned the Delhi High Court, requesting the suppression of two stories written against him on the news website The Quint based on anonymous harassment charges. The high court prohibited the substance of those two pieces from being republished during the suit’s duration and in doing so.

In Gugul v. the State of Odisha also examined the Right to be Forgotten as a remedy for victims of sexually graphic images or films frequently shared on social media platforms by spurn lovers to frighten and harass women, lamenting the lack of a mechanism to permanently wipe material from the internet in order to protect the right to be forgotten, called for a debate on the issue and said that: Information in the public domain is like toothpaste; once it’s out of the tube, you can’t get it back in, and once it’s in the public domain, it’ll never go away, The Kerala High Court as well recently granted the petitioner’s request to have his or her personal information removed from a Google search result.

The Delhi High Court’s latest judicial order in Jorawar Singh Mundy v. Union of India acknowledged the Right to be forgotten.

In the sense that not every request for removal will be granted, the Right to be Forgotten is not an absolute right. The Supreme Court did provide some clarity on this by saying that the acceptance of this right does not mean that all aspects of earlier existence are to be obliterated, as some may have a social ramification.

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