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Plea in Delhi High Court: What is the ‘Right to be Forgotten’?

GS-2: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


Recently, a doctor has approached the Delhi High Court to enforce his 'Right to be Forgotten'. He is seeking the removal of news articles and other incriminating content related to his wrongful arrest in response to a fabricated FIR against him. The doctor claims that this content is causing damage to his life and personal liberty. The Delhi High Court will now hear his plea.


The case

  • The case "Dr.Ishwarprasad Gilda vs. Union of India & Others" involves allegations against a well-known doctor who has fought against HIV-AIDS. 
  • The doctor is accused of various offenses under the Indian Penal Code, including causing death by negligence, cheating, and personating a public servant. 
  • The accusations stem from the doctor's alleged illegal procurement and administration of foreign medicines to HIV patients in India, whom he is also accused of mishandling. 
  • One patient, Girdhar Verma, died, and the doctor was arrested and subsequently released on bail. 
  • However, a trial court order in 2009 exonerated him, and he claims there is no evidence of his illegality
  • As a result, the doctor has sought relief from the Delhi High Court, asking for directions to remove "irrelevant" news content damaging his reputation and dignity, or to safeguard his dignity through the exercise of his "Right to be Forgotten," from respondents such as Google, the Press Information Bureau, and the Press Council of India.


Right to be Forgotten

  • The "Right to be Forgotten" refers to the entitlement to eliminate or erase content to prevent it from being accessible to the general public
  • This entitles an individual to have information, such as news articles, videos, or photographs, removed from internet records, preventing their visibility on search engines, like Google in the present case.


What are the origins of this Right?

  • The Right to be Forgotten originated from the 2014 European Court of Justice ruling in "Google Spain SL, Google Inc v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González."
  • It was codified for the first time following a Spanish man's quest to remove a 1998 advertisement saying his home was being repossessed to pay off debts.
  • The Right to be Forgotten was included in the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in addition to the right to erasure.
  • Article 17 of the GDPR provides for the right to erasure and lays down certain conditions when such a right can be restricted.


What is the law on the Right to be Forgotten?

  • Section 43A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 holds organizations responsible for failing to safeguard sensitive personal data, resulting in damages payable to the affected person.
  • The IT Rules, 2021don't include the Right to be Forgotten but outline the process for filing complaints with the designated Grievance Officer to remove personal information exposing content.
  • The Personal Data Protection Bill, introduced on December 11, 2019, includes Clause 20 under Chapter V, which mentions the "Right to be Forgotten" as the right to restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of personal data by a "data fiduciary."
  • The bill is yet to be passed by the parliament.


Judicial Opinion

  • Although not recognized by a law or statute in India, the courts have repeatedly held the "Right to be Forgotten" to be intrinsic to an individual's Right to Privacy under Article 21 since the 2017 ruling in "K.S.Puttaswamy vs Union of India."
  • The court referred to the European Union Regulation of 2016 which recognized the right to remove personal information from the system when it is no longer relevant, necessary, or correct and serves no legitimate interest.
  • The court acknowledged that the right can be restricted by the right to freedom of expression and information, compliance with legal obligations, or performance of tasks in the public interest, among other grounds.
  • In "Jorawer Singh Mundy vs Union of India," an American citizen approached the Delhi High Court seeking the removal of publicly available records of a case registered against him under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
  • The court directed respondents like 'IndianKanoon' to remove the same, citing the prejudicial effect of the publicly available information on the individual's chances of employment despite his acquittal in 2011.


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Who was Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary anti-colonist who gave his life fighting neocolonialism?

GS-1: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.


Thomas Sankara, an anti-colonialist and revolutionary leader, was recently reburied in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou. Sankara rejected Western support and advocated for a self-reliant, socio-economic and political vision during his time as the leader of Burkina Faso. He was often called “Africa’s Che Guevara” and was assassinated at the age of 37 during a coup led by his former ally, Blaise Compaore.


What is neo-colonialism?

  • Neocolonialism is a term used to describe a form of indirect control or influence that is exerted by powerful countries or multinational corporations over weaker countries, particularly those in the developing world. This influence can take many forms, including economic, political, and cultural.
  • In the context of colonialism, the term "neo" refers to the fact that this control is exercised through indirect means, rather than through direct military or political control as in traditional colonialism. 
  • This may involve the exploitation of natural resources, the imposition of economic policies that favor the interests of multinational corporations, or the propping up of authoritarian regimes that serve the interests of the dominant powers.
  • Neo-colonialism has been criticized for perpetuating economic and political inequalities between the developed and developing world, exacerbating poverty and political instability in weaker countries, and contributing to the erosion of national sovereignty and democratic governance.


Features of the neo-colonialism

Economic Dependency:

  • Neocolonialism creates an economic dependency of weaker countries on stronger ones, which can be sustained through various means such as loans, aid, trade agreements, and investment
  • This dependence often results in unequal trade relationships that favor the dominant powers, and it can also lead to the exploitation of natural resources and labor in weaker countries.

Political Control

  • Neocolonialism also led to political control by Western countries and multinational corporations, who sought to influence India's policies to serve their interests. 
  • This has led to a that have number of economic and social policies not been in the best interest of the Indian people, such as privatization, deregulation, and free trade agreements.

Cultural Hegemony 

  • Neocolonialism can involve the spread of cultural influences from dominant powers to weaker countries. 
  • This can include the adoption of Western-style consumer culture, the imposition of Western cultural norms and values, and the use of media and other forms of cultural influence to shape the beliefs and attitudes of people in weaker countries.

Technological Control

  • Neocolonialism can involve the control of technology and knowledge by dominant powers. 
  • This can include the use of patents, trademarks, and other forms of intellectual property to control the use and dissemination of technology, as well as the use of technological expertise and resources to control and manipulate weaker countries.


Impact of Neo-colonialism on India

  • Neocolonialism had a significant impact on India, which was a British colony until 1947
  • After gaining independence, India continued to experience neocolonialism through economic and political domination by Western countries and multinational corporations

Economic Exploitation

  • After gaining independence, India continued to experience economic exploitation through trade policies that favored Western countries and multinational corporations
  • This resulted in a significant trade deficit for India, with the country exporting raw materials and importing finished goods
  • Neocolonialism also led to the exploitation of natural resources, including land, minerals, and water, which has had negative environmental impacts.

Political Control

  • Neocolonialism also led to political control by Western countries and multinational corporations, who sought to influence India's policies to serve their interests. 
  • This has led to a that have number of economic and social policies not been in the best interest of the Indian people, such as privatization, deregulation, and free trade agreements.

Cultural Hegemony

  • Neocolonialism has also had an impact on Indian culture, with the spread of Western cultural values and the marginalization of indigenous cultures
  • This has led to the loss of traditional knowledge and practices, and the adoption of Western lifestyles and consumerism.

Technological Dependence

  • Neocolonialism has also led to technological dependence on Western countries and multinational corporations, with for India relying on foreign technology and expertise development. 
  • This has had negative impacts on the country's ability to innovate and create its own technologies, and has perpetuated a cycle of dependence and underdevelopment.


Benefits of Neo-colonialism

Investment and Development

  • Neocolonialism can lead to increased foreign investment and economic development in the former colony, which can create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Access to Global Markets

  • The former colony may gain access to global markets and international trade, which can help diversify its economy and increase its competitiveness.

Technology Transfer

  • Neocolonialism can facilitate the transfer of new technologies and knowledge, which can help improve productivity and competitiveness in the former colony.

Infrastructure Development

  • Neocolonialism can lead to the development of infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and airports, which can improve transportation and facilitate trade and economic growth.

Political Stability

  • Neocolonialism can also help promote politicalstability in the former colony, as foreign powers may work to support democratic institutions and good governance.

Disadvantages of Neo-colonialism

Economic Dependence 

  • Neocolonialism can create economic dependence on the former colonizer, as the former colony may rely heavily on foreign investment and trade.

Exploitation of Resources

  • Neocolonialism can lead to the exploitation of natural resources in the former colony, as foreign powers seek to extract resources for their own benefit.

Loss of Sovereignty 

  • Neocolonialism can lead to the loss of sovereignty for the former colony, as foreign powers may exert significant influence over its political and economic systems.

Cultural Hegemony

  • Neocolonialism can lead to cultural hegemony, as the former colonizer may impose its values and cultural norms on the former colony.

Unequal Power Dynamics

  • Neocolonialism can perpetuate unequal power dynamics between the former colonizer and the former colony, as the former may hold more economic and political power.

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Fact File

SC will have ‘neutral citation’ system, says CJI Chandrachud. What does that mean, and why is it important?

  • The 'neutral citation' system is a method of citing legal judgments that involves using a unique identifier for each case, independent of any print report series. 
  • It typically includes the court name, the year of the decision, a unique identifier, and sometimes the paragraph number or page number of the judgment. 
  • The purpose of neutral citation is to provide a consistent and permanent identifier for judgments that can be used by anyone, regardless of whether they have access to the printed law reports.

Importance of the neutral citation system

  • It allows for easy and efficient access to legal judgments, as they can be cited and found online using their unique identifier. This makes legal research faster and more accurate, as researchers can be confident they are citing the correct judgment. 
  • It promotes transparency and accountability in the legal system, as it allows for easier tracking of judicial decisions and trends. 
  • It reduces the reliance on expensive print law reports, making legal information more accessible and affordable for everyone.

What is Mukaab, a cube-shaped super-city to be built in Saudi Arabia, which can ‘fit 20 Empire State Buildings’

  • Mukaab is a small structure located near the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque in MeccaSaudi Arabia.
  • It is an elevated platform with three pillars and is used by scholars and VIPs for private prayers and religious rituals.
  • The Mukaab is cube-shaped, like the Kaaba itself, because it symbolizes the Kaaba and is intended to provide a similar spiritual experience for visitors

  • The cube shape is also significant in Islam as it represents the unity and oneness of God.
  • Built in 1979, the Mukaab is located on the roof of the Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
  • The Kaaba and the Grand Mosque in Mecca are considered among the holiest sites in Islam and are visited by millions of pilgrims every year during the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.
  • The Kaaba is believed to have been built by the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael) as a house of worship for Allah.


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