Right to Privacy means ‘right to be let alone’, the right of a person to be free from any unwarranted interference. Privacy is a value, a cultural state or condition, that is intended towards individual on collective self-realization, varies from society to society. Right to privacy which is interchangeably used with the right to be let alone can thus be regarded as a manifestation of “an inviolate personality”, a hub of freedom and liberty from which the human being must free from invasion. While the government and the judiciary in the past have been sceptical about recognising an individual’s right to privacy, the landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court, of K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India changed the entire scenario of privacy and individual rights in our country, incorporating it as a fundamental right.
There are various aspects of right to privacy, some of which are protection against phone tapping, gender priority on privacy, health, privacy in relation to sexual identities, security of State and the most common one being power to search and seizure. The State has been vested with the power to search and seizure but a proper procedure needs to be mandatorily complied with. The basic procedure of a search involves the mandatory production of a search warrant before going about the act of search. Section 166 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lays down the elaborate procedure when officer in charge of police station may require another to issue search-warrant.
A Judge issues a search warrant to authorize law enforcement officers to search a particular location and seize specific items. To obtain a search warrant, police must show probable cause that a crime was committed and that items connected to the crime are likely to be found in the place specified by the warrant.
In Dnyaneshwar v. State of Maharashtra and ors, the Bombay High Court ruled that conducting a search without warrant is a breach of Right to Privacy. In the present case, the search of the house of the petitioner was done without a search warrant at about 2am in the night and ultimately nothing objectionable was discovered. The Petitioner contented that during search, one constable even tried to plant a country made pistol and others threatened that they would implicate him in a false crime, which resulted in the violation of his right to privacy guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner filed a complaint before the concerned Tahsildar, District Superintend of Police and even State Human Rights Commission, but all his efforts were in vain.
The court placed reliance on State v. Rehman (AIR 1960 SC 210) and observed that,
“The provision of section 166 of the CrPC shows that police officer in charge of a police station may require another to issue search-warrant when a place to be searched is situated within local jurisdiction of the other police station. This court holds that provisions of sections 165 and 166 of the CrPC are applicable in a case like present one.”
Thus, Court declared that the police action was illegal and made it liable to pay a compensation of Rs. 25,000 for the violation of the privacy of the petitioner but also the subsequent defamation caused to the family. The court provided the State with the liberty to recover the compensation rom the respondent police officers.
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