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The simplistic definition of an individual’s right to privacy as ‘to be let alone’ is under-inclusive

The right to privacy is at the centre of emotive debates across the democratic world. The communications revolution along with the galloping pace of innovative technologies has made the State all pervasive. It also has the potential to become uncomfortably intrusive. The State is now capable of entering my home without knocking at my door. Technology enables conversations to be accessed without the intruders’ presence. Smart TVs have watchful eyes. Consequently, the relationship between the individual and State is undergoing a qualitative transformation. My home is my castle is no longer a truism. Hence, the need to protect the individual’s privacy.

The nature of the right and extent of protection needed was the subject matter of recent proceedings before a constitution bench of nine judges of the Supreme Court of India. First, the nature of the right to privacy. It is an essential attribute of personal liberty, a constitutionally recognised fundamental right. Without privacy, an individual’s liberty is inchoate. It is the very essence of personal liberty. Yet it must be separately recognised. The simplistic definition of the right to privacy as ‘to be let alone’ is under-inclusive. Privacy protects the inner sphere of the individual from State and non-State actors. This inner sphere relates to what I say and do in private, with the legitimate expectation that it won’t be shared.

I exercise my personal liberty in expressing my thoughts in private, but when the State, without my consent, accesses them, it is not my liberty but my privacy that is invaded. I have the liberty to eat what I like within the confines of my home. Prying by the State does not infringe my liberty but violates my privacy. By tracking who I visit, without any legitimate and compelling State interest, will again violate my right to privacy. Without the recognition of privacy as a fundamental constitutional right, its enforcement will be problematic. Having said that, the right to privacy, though fundamental, is like other such rights, not absolute. Its exercise is subject to legitimate and compelling State interest. My private actions may be subversive or might have the potential of or infringe the law. Thus, the right to privacy should not be a license to be misused for illegitimate ends. Equally, legitimate and compelling State interest must not be a cloak for uncalled-for state intrusion.

Every act of State intrusion must be sanctioned by law and must be proportionate to the legitimate and compelling need for intrusion. The facts of each case will determine the outcome of the challenge. The State must also provide for procedural guarantees against abuse of such intrusions. While we ride on the information highway empowering ourselves, we are voluntarily sharing information with both friends, strangers, the State and other entities, who may, with that information, disempower us. Those sharing personal data voluntarily on technology platforms are aware that it may be shared further.

The concept of privacy, therefore, has to be viewed in light of two qualitative relationships: One between individual and State; the other between individuals and non-State actors. Issues of privacy in respect of both have to be dealt with separately. The first has constitutional implications and the second relates to confidentiality. Thus the right to privacy has both horizontal and vertical attributes.

The right to privacy in the context of State action relates to data, which is shared either by law or otherwise with the State. Such data is shared for specific purposes. For instance, the data shared for getting a passport is for the specific purpose of exercising the fundamental right of citizens to travel. If any other organ of the State accesses that data and breaches confidentiality between citizens and such authority, that per se would be an invasion of the right to privacy. That is also true of data relating to a person’s physical attributes shared with a government hospital. Access to such data by another government agency to which the citizen has not consented, would also infringe the citizen’s right to privacy.

The relationship between citizens and non-State actors qua which data is willingly provided by the citizen for enhancing the citizen’s own experience is subject to confidentiality to the extent confidentiality can be maintained. There may be platforms where such confidentiality cannot be maintained. In such cases, where there is a dilution of the right to confidentiality, the citizen should be made aware that when sharing such data, there may be a possibility of it being further shared. The right to privacy also enjoins the State to put in place a robust data protection law, that obligates State and non-State actors to ensure that data shared by the citizens is secure and that the breach of any confidentiality would be visited with legal consequences. The principles underlying such data protection law require a transparent system for management of personal information including putting in place a privacy policy and ensuring that the quality of personal information is secured.

An individual’s persona with all its attributes requires to be protected. That will only happen when our Republic is passionately committed to a liberal democratic environment.

The writer is a senior Congress leader and former Union minister.

(Credit: This Aricle is published on Daily News and Analysis Dated 07/08/2017)

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Opposition to corner Modi govt in Parliament over Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi scandal

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Modi government is in chaos as the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union minister for law and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad were seen defending the government over Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi scandal and when the Opposition questions on Rafale deal,Smiriti Irani,the Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles and Information and Broadcasting responds by clarifying that all aspects including approval of CCS were followed in accordance with
the Defence Precurement Procedure.

Constitutionally Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are answerable to the people of India on both the financial frauds and the Rafale deal. The Opposition has planned to corner the government over the Nirav Modi controversy involving Punjab National Bank when the Parliament’s budget session resumes on March 5.

In four years of NDA’s tenure, Narendra Modi’s single point agenda has been to target previous UPA regime for all the failures of his government and to tarnish the image of Gandhi family.

There is a growing perception that Modi government connived with high-profile businessmen to flee the country with taxpayers’ money .People are feeling cheated as new scams continue (o unfold, undermining the public’s trust in the banking, regulatory and law enforcement system.

Thus PM Modi has failed to deliver on the promises he made in 2014 to curb corruption and to eliminate the
menace of fake currency notes and terrorism by the faulty decision of Demonetisation.

CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat attacked the prime minister saying the claims of Modi government of a corruption-free regime is now in “tatters” with the Nirav Modi scandal coming soon after the “murky” Rafale fighter jet deal.
“crony capitalism is flourishing in Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government and Crony capitalism and the nexus with corrupt politicians is at the root of the non-performing assets and the banking crisis in the country,” Karat has said.
PM is  not bothered over the increasing number of scams unearthed during his tenure of just four years,rather he
ignored to address the financial frauds or real issues concerning Aam AAdmi’s problems during Mann Ki Baat and avoids to reply to the Opposition’s legitimate questions in Parliament.

Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinh said Modi government cannot escape the responsibility that this scam
had started earlier but why was it allowed to continue.” Further stated that “truth had become a casualty’ in the political fight between the Congress and the BJP over the fraud.

Jaitley issued an absurd statement Stating that it is in the larger interest of India’s national security to keep the price details of defence deals i.e. Rafale deal a secret.

Modi government scrapped the 2005 deal signed during the UPA regime for purchase of 126 jets at a rate of Rs 526 crore each and inked a fresh pact in 2015 to purchase 36 jets at a much higher rate of Rs 15,070 crore each.
If government can disclose the range and minute details of missiles and other weapons then what is the need to keep secret the details of Rafale deal.In this era of globalisation , every power knows the military strength of each and every country.

The government is full of arrogance and is now preparing to reply to the Opposition by listing the measures such as
Changes to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code taken to prove the government’s political will to punish bank loans defaulters and expedite debt resolution.

BJP spokespersons are seen trying to “establish” that the PNB scam took place not because of the NDA but the UPA regime but now there exists an element of trust deficit as how all high -profile businessmen known to the BJP leaders managed to flee the country.

It appears that main aim of Modi government is to entrap the public in taxes (GST and other taxes)and target its opponents with CBI and other agencies while allowing fraudsters to flee the country with taxpayers’ money ,but this policy doesn’t augur well for democracy in the country.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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World gearing up for a third world war : UK warns of Russian threat

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There is a growing unease in United States and Britain about Russia  progressing in achieving “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet republics along the lines of the European Union under Vladimir Putin. Britain has warned that Russia is the biggest threat to UK’s security since the end of the Cold War. Drawing similarities with the 1914 First World war, UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson has equated Moscow to North Korea after Russia has threatened to unleash nuclear war.

Due to the Russians’ presence in the Mediterranean region and the Kremlin’s “increased assertiveness,” it is time Britain gets stronger, he said. This comes just a week after Britain ordered ships to pass the disputed South China Sea, much closer to the Chinese coast than the white cliffs of Dover.

General Nicholas Carter has also warned that Britain will be unable to preempt or respond to Russian aggression unless its military capabilities are overhauled to match Moscow’s military capabilities. Since 2000, Putin has been Russia’s most powerful man after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, holding positions of both prime minister and president and had been consistently working to achieve superpower status for Moscow and global hegemony equivalent to US.

The West became cautious of Puin moves after the Russian seizure of Crimea in March 2014, followed by its annexation. UK former defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon issued calls for increased defence spending, citing growing threats from Russia and cyber-attacks.

Fallon admitted that Britain has all the evidence of Putin’s intent to subvert western democracies, from the Netherlands to Montenegro, from Germany to even the United States.” “Through cyber, our enemies can target us anywhere on the planet: not only stealing our information, but exploiting us, coercing us, disrupting our energy supplies, our armaments, even our governments. Almost anybody can become a cyber-warrior: a laptop and some smart software can inflict enormous financial and physical damage on individuals and entire countries.”

To establish foothold in Middle East, Russia has significantly increased its military operations to Syria. Taking forward the geopolitical and ideological idea, Putin called for the Eurasian Movement of the Russian Federation, and said that there is a unique “Eurasian” civilization in Russia and its neighbors, distinct from both East and the West.

To pursue his goal, Putin clinched free trade pacts with countries to form Eurasian Union. The Russian leader is aggressively trying to achieve Eurasian integration process due to many common factors binding Russia and the European countries together : common history, geographical proximity, massive amounts of trade, etc. But confrontation is most likely between Russia and Europe.

The tensions between Russia and the West escalated after Russia air force purchased 10 of the strategic TU-160M nuclear bombers, code named Blackjacks by NATO. The TU-160M worth 15 billion rubles ($269 million) is capable of carrying 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and can fly 7,500 miles non-stop without refuelling. US, UK and Europe are worried over Putin standing for re-election on March 18 – a poll showing he is likely to win.

Russia has deployed over 330,000 soldiers on its western border while NATO has stationed biggest military build-up on Moscow’s borders since the cold war. Moreover, Russia carried out simulated attack exercises across northern Europe, from Kaliningrad to Lithuania, as part of a new tactic in exploiting the gray areas between peace and war.

Talking about the military hardware, Britain fighter jets are stationed in Romania, US tanks, troops, artillery has been deployed in Poland to counter the Russian warships armed with cruise missiles in Baltic Sea.

An armada of Russian ships from the Baltic Fleet have been dispatched from Baltiysk naval base, in Kaliningrad Oblast, for large scale military exercises. Sweden, whose eastern coast borders the Baltic Sea, is issuing the advise for the first time since 1961 – the height of the Cold War.

U.S. National Security Strategy released by Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster states Russia and China are “revisionist” powers, genuine geopolitical rivals to the United States that “challenge American power, influence and interests,” while “attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”

Russia military has been deeply engaged in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine since April 2014, where fighting has claimed 10,000 lives. The United States, European Union and other Western countries are continuing to put political and economic pressure on the Kremlin. Putin’s Russia is active today. “Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, and Ukraine—he is either trying to get those countries back into his realm .

Washington approved for the first time lethal weapons sales to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed militias and the announcement of a new U.S. sanctions list that targets Russians such as the Kremlin-appointed strongman in Chechnya.

Russia denounced the American strategy document as an “imperialist” relic of a delusional superpower that persisted in acting unilaterally on the world stage.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Royal Orchid announces the opening of group’s newest hotel in Nashik

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 Royal Orchid Hotels, the fastest growing hospitality chain in India today announced the opening of its new hotel in Nashik named ‘Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village’. Nashik popularly known as the wine capital of the country has gained immense popularity among the tourist in India.

Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village, with 32 rooms offers boutique accommodation with varied dining and banquet facilities. The glorious property will give travelers a mesmerizing experience and contemporary luxury.

On-site amenities at the hotel include a completely refreshed restaurant, a winery, a state-of-the-art fitness center and outdoor pool, as well as a business centre, and spa services. The hotel has a wide range of facilities that let the guests choose from various room categories designed in keeping the touch of the city with elegance and relaxing atmosphere.

Located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra, Nashik is developing as a lively city with a blend of the ancient and modern touches attracting tourists from across the country. The city has numerous forts, temples, historic sites as well as a home to industries. The city offers green pastures, mountains and tours of the wine yard.

The most important attraction of the city includes Vineyards and Hindu temples situated in and around Nashik. May it be an important corporate event or a business meet or a simple getaway to explore nature and feel the essence of spirituality, Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village allows enormous options to its guests. The guests can experience the beauty and culture of Nasik just by availing one of the several facilities that the hotel provides to its patrons.

Chander K. Baljee, Managing Director, Royal Orchid Hotels said, “The hotel is the perfect complement to our recently refreshed Regenta portfolio of hotels across India. We are taking continuous steps towards expanding our presence all over India. The new hotel in Nasik is one such move towards achieving our aim. The government push toward tourism sector is giving us the much needed enthusiasm to go aggressive in adding new properties to our bouquet. Going forward we will continue to add more properties to both-explored and unexplored tourist destinations”

By now we have added eight properties – Mysore, Ahmedabad, Dehradun, Kanpur, Dwarka, Indore, Pushkar and now Nasik in the current fiscal year taking the number to 49 hotels. We will continue our efforts in expanding our presence all over India”.

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