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8 Questions and Answers on Right to be Forgotten in Indian Context.

Question 1 : What is the 'Right to be forgotten' and why is it important for data protection?


The 'Right to be forgotten' refers to the right of individuals to have their private information removed from the internet or public platforms. It is important for data protection as it allows individuals to control their personal data and maintain their privacy in the digital age.


Question 2 : How did the 'Right to be forgotten' originate and evolve?

  • The concept of the 'Right to be forgotten' originated from French jurisprudence on the 'Right to oblivion' in 2010.

  • It gained significant attention after a case involving Mario Costeja González in 1998.

  • The European Court of Justice later ruled that individuals in the European Union could have personal information removed from search results and public records databases. However, in 2019, the ruling was limited to the European Union.

Question 3 : Is there a specific law on the 'Right to be forgotten' in India?

Currently, there is no specific law in India that provides for the 'Right to be forgotten'. However, a bill has been introduced in the parliament to address this issue.


Question 4 : What are the provisions related to the 'Right to be forgotten' in the Personal Data Protection Bill?

  • The Personal Data Protection Bill, which is pending before the parliament, includes provisions related to the 'Right to be forgotten'.

  • Section 9 of the bill states that personal data should not be maintained beyond the necessary term and should be erased at the conclusion of processing.

  • Section 18(d) gives individuals the right to erasure of personal data that is no longer necessary for the purpose it was processed.

Question 5 : What are some significant judicial decisions regarding the 'Right to be forgotten' in India?

  • In State of Punjab v. Gurmeet Singh and Ors., the Supreme Court ruled that anonymity can protect victims of sexual offenses from social ostracism.

  • In Sredharan T v. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court recognized the 'Right to be forgotten' as a part of the Right to privacy. The court granted an interim order directing the search engine to remove the name and personal information of the rape victim from search results to protect her identity

  • The Karnataka High Court, in Sri Vasunathan v. Registrar General and V. vs. High Court of Karnataka, upheld the 'Right to be forgotten' in cases involving sensitive matters concerning women, such as rape or reputation damage.

  • The Orissa High Court, in Subranshu Raot v. State of Odisha, examined the 'Right to be forgotten' as a remedy for victims of sexually explicit content shared on social media for harassment.

  • In Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan v Quintillion Business Media Pvt. Ltd. the Delhi High Court supported an individual's 'Right to be forgotten'. The court issued an injunction against the defendants, restraining them from republishing disputed articles during the pending suit.

Judicial pronouncements indicate that the judiciary has recognized the 'Right to be forgotten' as a fundamental right and an inherent part of privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, in Kharak Singh v. State of UP and K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, affirmed the Right to privacy as part of the Right to life under Article 21.


However, the 'Right to be forgotten' is subject to certain restrictions. It cannot be invoked if the information in question is necessary for the exercise of freedom of expression and information, fulfillment of legal responsibilities, public interest or health, protection of public interest information, scientific or historical study, or for statistical purposes, or the establishment, execution, or defense of legal claims.


Question 6 : What are the challenges associated with the implementation of the 'Right to be forgotten'?


  • One challenge is the potential impact on journalism and the freedom of speech and expression. There is a concern that implementing the 'Right to be forgotten' may restrict journalists from reporting certain information.

  • It may also raise issues related to violating the Right to Information and imposing unreasonable restrictions.

Question 7 : Why should the 'Right to be forgotten' be accepted and made into law?


Individuals should have the right to control their personal information and protect their privacy in the digital age. The 'Right to be forgotten' empowers people to manage their digital identity and personal integrity. It also helps protect individuals from the unlawful dissemination of private information and allows them to live free from mental distress caused by irrelevant articles or information about them.


Question 8 : How is the 'Right to be forgotten' recognized globally?

The European Union has made significant progress in establishing the 'Right to be forgotten' through the Data Protection Directive and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Other countries, including India, are considering the adoption of similar legislation to protect individuals' data rights.

Apart from the European Union, several other countries have recognized and implemented the 'Right to be forgotten' or similar concepts. Argentina, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and Russia are among the countries that have introduced or considered legislation to protect individuals' rights to control their personal information and have it removed from online platforms. They aim to provide individuals with the means to protect their personal data and reputation from the potentially harmful consequences of widespread and permanent availability on the internet.


Conclusion : The 'Right to be forgotten' has emerged as a significant issue in the era of digital information and increased online presence. While there is no specific legislation in India that explicitly provides for this right, the concept is evolving through judicial interpretations and the introduction of bills like the Personal Data Protection Bill.

  • The recognition of the 'Right to be forgotten' is crucial in safeguarding individuals' privacy and giving them control over their personal information. However, it also raises challenges related to freedom of expression, access to information, and the potential impact on journalism.

  • As society navigates the complexities of the digital age, it is essential to strike a balance between protecting individuals' privacy and preserving the fundamental principles of free speech and access to information. Legislative measures and judicial interpretations need to consider these competing interests to ensure a fair and equitable framework for data protection and privacy in the digital era.

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