Can you ask Google to remove any search result relating to you?

If anyone does search your name on ‘Google’ and the results which are subsequently shown are demeaning to your image and dignity or irrelevant or any particular unwanted result shown, then can you ask ‘Mr. Google’ or from any other search engine to remove those?

In the year 2014, in the jurisdiction of Spain, it was possible. Mr.Mario Costeja Gonzalez, filed a complaint before Spain authorities for removing a particular news article from article, which was no longer relevant.

The matter (Google Inc. v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos) went before the European Court of Justice, which resolved it and ordered both the respective news agency to remove that article. It also ordered Google Inc. to remove that article from search results. ECJ held that right to be called as “right to be forgotten”

Gradually, people in many other countries began to ask Google to remove certain unwanted search results from its index. Many other websites are also being asked to remove certain web pages which contained unwanted, irrelevant, or demeaning contents.

Countries like France, Britain, Germany, which are part of European Union are clearly enforcing “right to be forgotten” or “right to be erased”. Other countries such as Canada, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia and India are also facing complaints to enforce this right, and some have enforced it.

Now coming to Indian Context, recently in 2017, three High Courts i.e. Gujarat High Court, Delhi High Court and Karnataka High Court have come across three different cases, which are as follows:

  1. Dharamraj Bhanushankar Dave v. State of Gujarat & Ors. (SCA no. 1854 of 2015) : In this case, the petitioner sought remedy under Article 226 against the publication of a judgment by Indian Kanoon and same being shown by Google in its search results, which was a ‘non-reportable judgment’. Petitioner further claimed that such an act violated of Article 21. Gujarat High Court held that such publication of judgment by “website would not amount to same being reported as the word “reportable” used for judgment is in relation to it being reported in law reporter.”
  1. Another case came up before Karnataka High Court which pertained to similar ground as were before the above-mentioned judgment. In this case Karnataka High Court ordered its Registry to make every endeavor”to ensure that any internet search made in the public domain, ought not to reflect the petitioner’s daughter’s name in the cause title of the order or in the body of the order of this court in Crl.P.No.1599/2015 disposed of on 15.06.2015.”

    It further stated that:
    “This would be in line with the trend in the Westerncountries where they follow this as a matter of rule “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.”[1]

  1. LakshVir Singh Yadav vs. Union of India (WP(C) 1021/2016): This case is pending before Delhi High Court, and High Court has issued notice to the Centre (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology) regarding views on “right to be forgotten” or “right to delink” and delinking the ‘irrelevant information’ from the internet. It also asked for formation separate legal framework  for the same.[2]

Looking back in past – Right to Privacy

Right to Privacy has been held to be a part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.It first came out in Kharak Singh v. State of U.P., (1964) 1 SCR 332, where the court laid down that right to life includes personal liberty and thus, right to privacy.

Moving on further to R. Rajagopal v. State of T.N., (1994) 6 SCC 632, where Supreme Court has went further and stated that, right to privacy is part of right to life and liberty under Article 21, and called it as “right to be let alone”.It clearly said that:

“A citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child-bearing and education among other matters. None can publish anything concerning the above matters without his consent — whether truthful or otherwise and whether laudatory or critical. If he does so, he would be violating the right to privacy of the person concerned and would be liable in an action for damages.”

Supreme Court has though given an exception that, where matter relating to Public records are published they shall be not be deemed to be subjected to right to privacy. This exception is now a days being subjected to change and only Public authorities are being publish such records, and private persons are not allowed to publish such things which might harm the dignity of an individual.

Therefore, answering to the question, seeing the change in Indian Jurisprudence of “Right to be forgotten” or “Right to be erased” or “Right to delink” or “Right to be let alone” one can approach to court under Article 226 or 32 and ask for removal any content which is unwanted or irrelevant or demeaning from internet.

[1] http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/300117/karnataka-high-court-upholds-womans-right-to-be-forgotten.html

[2] http://www.livelaw.in/delhi-hc-hearing-nris-plea-right-forgotten-read-petition/



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

dhruv-chandora

DHRUV CHANDORA

Dhruv Chandora is currently pursuing 4th year of BA LLB (Hons) course at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab. A voracious reader and a keen learner, Dhruv is also a moot court enthusiast.

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