An Analysis of the Right to Privacy at Home

Privacy is a state where a person is free from the observance or disturbance of another person. Privacy requires a set of interests which are needed to be protected by the legal systems. The right of the person to receive this protection of interests is known as the right to privacy. The right to privacy is a contrasting concept. While one may claim a right to privacy by preventing the state authorities from entering their house or private property, it can be argued that it is the duty of the state to ensure that no criminal activities take place in an area. The issue arises if any criminal activity is taking place in a person’s house, can the person claim his right to privacy? There is no direct answer to the questions arising pertaining to the right to privacy. Another issue with the right to privacy is if privacy is covered under article 21 of the Indian Constitution of the right to life and personal liberty.

The need of privacy is in human nature. Every human strives towards the establishment of individual boundaries. Any kind of continuous and non-consensual observance by a stranger may give rise to a fair amount of fear and apprehension in the person. But the question that arises is that can this human need be turned into a right which can be protected by the law. The right to privacy is an extremely broad term. In this article, I would be focusing on the narrow topic of the ‘right to privacy at home’. The right to privacy at home is the most desired right of a person to be away from the surveillance of anyone else when he is at home. The main contradiction in this right arises when the right claims no police surveillance on the person when he is at home, but the police have a duty of keeping a check on any criminal activity happening at any house. At these times, it is difficult to grant a person the absolute right to privacy at home which will disable the police from carrying on raids in suspected houses. The main argument supporting the right to privacy at home is that the state has no right to keep a check on the actions of the person while he is at his home.

A subdivision of the right to privacy at home is the ‘right to sleep’. In the Indian context, although there is no specified right as the right to sleep, yet in many cases, the courts have held that the ambit of Article 21, that is, right to life and personal liberty is comprehensive of all varieties of rights which will go on to make up the personal liberty of a man. In this situation it can be said that a person has a right to sleep and protection from any disturbance caused to his sleep as this would be a hindrance to his personal liberty. The right to privacy at home involves not only physical surveillance but also psychological and data surveillance. In conclusion it can be said that the state must make laws upholding the right of a person to privacy at home. This right of every person must be respected and any breach of this right must be provided with an appropriate remedy. Unless this right hinders the provisions of law, every person must have the right to privacy at home. The right must not be absolute but must be available in every situation that is not unlawful or against public policy.

This article is authored by Jotham Cherian, student of BBA LL.B (Hons.) at Christ University, Bangalore

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