The Karnataka High Court in its order dated November 30, 2022 has rejected family court order permitting disclosure of mobile tower locations of a third party in a matrimonial case, as it would violate the right to privacy of that person, who is not a party to the main proceedings.
Wife filed for annulment of marriage on grounds of cruelty. The husband accused his wife of having an extra-marital affair and thus filed an application in the court, seeking mobile tower records of his wife’s alleged paramour.
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The Family Court, while allowing the application on February 23, 2019, had observed that the husband was not seeking “summoning of conversation through calls, SMS chats” but only tower location details for adjudication of the case in accordance with law.
Karnataka High Court
Justice M Nagaprasanna rejected family court order stating that a citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his family, marriage and other incidental relationships. The Court added that informational privacy also forms an integral part of the right to privacy. Adding further, the Karnataka High Court said,
Third party’s privacy cannot be permitted to be violated on the specious plea of the husband that he wants to prove illicit relationship between the petitioner and the wife.It is trite that the right to privacy is implicit in the right to life and liberty guaranteed to the citizens of the Country under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is a right to be ‘let alone’.
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Intention of Husband to Prove Adultery
Observing that the intention of the husband is only to prove alleged adultery on the part of his wife, the court said the tower details of the third party cannot be permitted to be divulged for such reason. It added,
It would undoubtedly violate the right to privacy of the petitioner who is not a party, who is not put on notice and whose defence is not permitted to be projected even.Therefore, permitting tower details of the petitioner would be contrary to law without him being in the know of any proceedings between the husband and the wife, but only on an allegation of the husband that the wife is in illicit relationship with the petitioner.
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Husband argued that his wife had not challenged Family Court’s order. To this, the high court stated that even if the wife has not raised any objection on the same, her “acceptance” of the order would have no bearing on the right of the petitioner to seek quashing of the said order. The high court concluded,
Wife, who is anyway a party to the proceedings, has instituted divorce case, her acceptance or otherwise, cannot bind the petitioner.There is no warrant to permit tower details of the petitioner to be summoned or brought before the concerned Court to aid the plea of the husband who has not even filed any case.
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