The Unfolding Tapestry: Constitutional Reflections on Privacy in the Digital Era under Indian Jurisprudence

Published On: 31st January, 2024

Authored By: Vedanti Wanjari
Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur


In reaction to the demands of the digital age, the concept of privacy is experiencing a substantial metamorphosis within the vast and complex fabric of Indian constitutional jurisprudence. The Indian Constitution, a visionary document enacted in 1950, now faces the challenge of protecting individual rights in the face of unmatched technological advancements. This talk embarks on a journey through India’s constitutional landscape, exploring the complex interactions between the principles of the constitution and the digital transformation of the modern age as a hyperlink between technology and privacy rights.


A paradigm change has occurred as a result of the digital revolution, undermining established conventions and legal frameworks, especially in the area of privacy. This dynamic terrain of Indian constitutional jurisprudence is thoroughly examined in this study, with a particular focus on how privacy rights have changed in response to technological improvements. The Indian Constitution’s Article 21, a stronghold defending the inalienable rights to life and liberty, is at the center of this investigation. The article develops by analyzing the constitutional basis and the development of privacy in India, highlighting significant court decisions. The connection between technology and privacy rights is becoming increasingly important on a worldwide scale in the modern day. While countries struggle with the deep consequences of technological innovation, this article carefully considers various strategies. The European Union’s GDPR, hailed as a complete model, is a focus point. The article explores how countries negotiate the digital age by developing legislative frameworks to handle difficulties with privacy and data protection. A greater understanding of the worldwide scope of privacy problems is demonstrated by the creation of independent data protection authorities and the extraterritorial enforcement of legal regulations.


The Indian Constitution’s Article 21 declares that human liberty is untouchable acting as a sentinel. The statement reads, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” It is succinct but deep. Aware of past battles for individual liberties, the constitution’s framework established Article 21 as a safeguard against capricious state intervention. Protecting each citizen’s right to life and personal liberty was the explicit goal, as these rights are fundamental to the concepts of justice and equity.

When analyzing the wording of Article 21, it is crucial to emphasize how carefully and purposefully the framers chose their phrases. The terms “life” and “personal liberty” refer to intentional extensions that go beyond the concept of physical existence and embrace a wider range of an individual’s worth, self-determination, and welfare. The framers intended for a constitutional provision to serve as an elastic shield, changing course as ideas about justice and individual liberty did.

  • Constitutional Foundation and Evolution of Privacy in India

The origins and evolution of the right to privacy in India are explained by a number of landmark court rulings over several decades, supplemented by legislative actions. The Indian Constitution’s fundamental ideals are based on the development of this right, with Article 21 acting as a guide for preserving Individual freedom.

Naz Foundation vs Government of NCT of Delhi (2009):

In the Naz Foundation case, the Delhi HC made a major advancement in the growth of privacy rights when it was declared that criminalizing homosexuality violates people’s rights to privacy and dignity. A historic decision by the Supreme Court upheld the right to privacy, which is considered a fundamental constitutional right for Indian people under Part III and Article 21. Three requirements that must be met before infringing upon Article 21 rights were expressly endorsed by the court, Legality, which requires compliance with current legal requirements; Necessity, which calls for a justifiable state goal; and Proportionality which calls for a logical match between the intended purpose of the intrusion and the means by which it is carried out. To address the issues brought about by the growing digital era, the Court adopted a progressive understanding of fundamental rights. It promoted the expansion of individual liberty into the digital realm while defending the right to privacy and self-determination.

This all-encompassing strategy cleared the path for important legal advancements, such as the decriminalization of homosexuality in India, which resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling on September 6, 2018. With this decision, consenting adult same-sex partnerships became legal, which was a significant turning point in the development of individual rights in the nation. The largest democracy in the world, India joined other nations- the US, UK Canada, South Africa, and the European Union- in acknowledging the Right to Privacy as an essential and unalienable freedom with this specific landmark ruling.

Aadhaar Judgement (2018):

The Supreme Court’s emphatic declaration that the Aadhaar scheme violates the right to privacy now recognized as a basic right under the Indian constitution marked a turning point in the Aadhaar case. The court created a strong foundation for constitutional review in this case by introducing the proportionality test as a yardstick to assess the legitimacy of any intrusions upon private rights.

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union of India (2017):

The right to privacy is firmly established as a basic right under the Indian Constitution, as the Supreme Court decides in the Puttaswamy case, finding refuge within the provisions of both Article 21 and Article 14. The right to privacy received complete constitutional protection as a result of this historic ruling, which elevated it to the top of the legal hierarchy.

These judicial turning points demonstrate how the Indian court has evolved the concept of the right to privacy and demonstrated its dedication to modifying constitutional ideals to meet the needs of modern society. Together, these rulings create a story that affirms privacy as essential to personal liberty and dignity, in addition to being a legal right.


The preservation of privacy has become a top priority in the rapidly changing digital age, leading nations to review and strengthen existing legal systems. This section of the article examines the diverse approaches implemented by different countries and examines the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union as a model for all-encompassing privacy protection. It also examines seminal court decisions that have had a big impact on privacy and technology law, providing insight into how judges are interpreting traditional privacy concepts in the face of rapid technological advancement.

  • Navigating the Digital Era

Throughout the world, nations are strengthening and adjusting their legal systems in an effort to proactively address the difficulties presented by technology breakthroughs. These frameworks cover a wide range of topics, including as information gathering, processing, storing, and cross-border information transfer. The main objective is to adapt legislative laws to the complex realities of modern technology environments. This dynamic environment leads to varying approaches to legislation. Some nations, that share the GDPR’s guiding principles, place a strong emphasis on giving people strong control over their personal data. Others concentrate on strengthening the supervision and enforcement capabilities of data protection agencies, building a wall against unjustified invasion of privacy.

The creation of autonomous authorities for data protection has been a prevalent practice. These organizations act as watchful stewards, monitoring and implementing privacy laws. Their function is essential in guaranteeing adherence to legal regulations furnishing persons with a means of recourse, and cultivating an accountable culture among organizations managing personal data. Legislative frameworks are expanding beyond national borders in recognition of the transboundary nature of data transfers. Extraterritorial application clauses give authorities the ability to control organizations that handle their citizen’s data regardless of where they are physically located. This strategy demonstrates an awareness that a worldwide viewpoint is necessary for effective privacy protection.

  • GDPR as a model and its global impact:

A vital example of thorough privacy protection is the GDPR. As nations and other entities all around the world align their practices with its high standards, its influence is felt on a global scale. Individual rights such as the ability to access, correct, and erase personal data are given top priority under the GDPR. The GDPR’s ingrained principles of purpose limitation and data minimization prevent the collection of unnecessary data, promoting responsible data processing. In the case of a data breach, organizations are required by law to swiftly notify individuals and authorities. This proactive approach promotes transparency and accountability in data processing procedures.

The GDPR has a significant worldwide impact and influences legislative developments across a number of states. When processing the data of EU citizens, organizations all over the world frequently base their privacy policies on GDPR regulations. This imitation shows that the GDPR has been successful in establishing standards for thorough and applicable privacy protection on a worldwide scale

  • Case Law and Precedents

Riley v. California (2014):

The ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court was a turning point in privacy law. The Fourth Amendment was violated, and the court ruled by law enforcement warrantless search of a suspect’s smartphone. This case established the fundamental idea that, given their pervasive presence in people’s lives, digital devices should have stronger privacy protections.

Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (2014):

In this case, the European Court of Justice upheld the “right to be forgotten.” People now have the ability to ask for specific, irrelevant, or out-of-date search engine results to be removed. This decision acknowledged people’s control over their online narrative and emphasized the relationship between privacy rights and the digital sphere.

K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017):

The right to privacy was acknowledged as a basic right by the Indian Supreme Court in a landmark ruling. This case emphasized the necessity for a strong legal framework to protect people from unauthorized intrusions and the constitutional protection of privacy in the digital era.

Courts struggle to find novel ways to interpret established privacy rules as technology advances. Expecting privacy is one of these principles. When assessing people’s legitimate expectations of privacy in unique situations, courts take changing social norms into account. As courts balance the interests of people against those of the state or other organizations the balancing test becomes increasingly important. This calls for a nuanced examination that weighs potential invasions of personal privacy against the benefits that technological advancements can bring to society. The way that courts modify legal doctrines to conform to technological improvements is reflected in the evolution of precedents, which guarantees that established principles continue to be applicable and efficient in protecting privacy rights.


In conclusion, India’s evolving approach to privacy rights reflects a deep awareness of the issues raised by the digital era. The path of the constitution characterized by seminal rulings, demonstrates a dedication to modifying long-standing ideas to meet the changing demands of the community. The GDPR serves as an example of the global view on privacy and highlights how intertwined privacy concerns are on a worldwide scale. Courts around the world struggle with the difficult issue of interpreting established privacy principles in fresh settings as technology progresses at an unstoppable pace. The development of legal precedents demonstrates the careful balancing act between the rights of the individual and the interests of society. Upholding privacy obligations while acknowledging the possible benefits of technological advancements presents a dilemma for courts. This careful approach guarantees that legal principles continue to be effective and relevant, able to protect an individual’s right to privacy in the face of the rapidly evolving digital reality. The constant dedication to upholding individual liberty serves as a compass in navigating the future course of privacy jurisprudence.


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Moerel, L. (2018). Big Data Protection. How to Make the Draft EU Regulation on Data Protection Future Proof. SSRN Electronic Journal.

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