My Right to Privacy cannot dominate the Right to Life of Another

11 Jul 2020

“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for”

These lines written by Mahatma Gandhi are certainly expressions of the purest form of non-violence, today when the whole world is going through its worst phase as it struggles with the COVID- 19, to restore our principles of life it’s a time for self-realization of values of life for each of us.

The world fleeing at the speed of light has come to a standstill; quarantine and lockdown have become opportunities for our self-realization. The subtlest observation of the impermanence we are all doing more or less as a deduction to the needs of the day-to-day and the philosophy of human philanthropy has also taken place all over the country in many ways.

Amidst all this, the realistic depictions of characters like Ghisu, Madhav of the story “Kafan” written by MunshiPremchand were also seen. Opportunists going up to the level of Kevin Carter, famous journalist capturing the vulture sitting in wait for a baby to die, were also seen.

Individuals and groups who believe in the anti-ideology of the democratic governance system have been engaged in weakening the defensive efforts of the people of India against the COVID-19 by organized different narratives against the lock-down. On the one hand, when the whole world is not only praising but also following the Integral Strategy of the people of India and the Government of India, then these people are ridiculously making allegations of violating the right to privacy to contest the important protection mechanism “ArogyaSetu”.

ArogyaSetu is a kind of alarm device that detects the exact position of the holder from the ‘GPS’ of the mobile phone after it is downloaded as an app in the mobile phone just like Ola, Uber like Taxi providers or service providers that provide food such as Domino’s and Swiggy’s.

In this app, the holder himself can provide information of his fever, cough, phlegm, breathing problem with chronic disease (if any), diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, blood pressure etc, visit or contact with the infected person and can sense the dangerous situation by doing a self-examination. Depending on the information recorded, a person can seek treatment or advice.

Based on this limited information, through Bluetooth, this app can protect all the people of the surrounding area by warning them to come in contact with an infected person.

All users can not only save themselves from infection before its spread by adopting restraint and protection but will also avoid spreading the disease in society on the basis of latest information. Not only this, authentic information in respect of CORONA, news and contact helpline are all facilities available in “ArogyaSetu”.

The spread of this corona virus is more dangerous than the disease because of its infectious tendency. In the current phase of absence of the vaccine, breaking the chain of contact is considered the right way to prevent infection even globally.

Being infected or coming in contact with an infected person, self-quarantine is the only way to save others, for this many countries of the world have taken the help of such digital measures and the example of  South Korea’s is a  milestone.

If people will hide the information of disease or relative information in the time of epidemic by asserting the right to personal privacy, in such a situation, it is impossible to break the chain of COVID-19. It is very important to understand that everyone will have to make sincere efforts to break this chain because this disease is not your personal disease, it is a public epidemic which can be fatal to another person. If you have no right over their life, then how can your personal privacy can dominate the right to live off the other person whose life you are putting in danger by yourself becoming part of the COVID-19 series?

The right to live, the right to privacy and the right to freedom should not be seen separately instead must be seen in the collective manner. Privacy is an integral part of the dignified existence of man and it is also correct that the Constitution does not mention it. But, the right to privacy is a right that has not been specifically written in the constitution instead it has been recognized by it.

The Constitution of India and the judicial system under it have considered personal privacy as a fundamental right and have given legal arrangements for it.

As a part of the right to live life, the right to privacy is a fundamental right. The right to live dignified life includes the right to personal privacy, which has been elaborated by the Indian judicial system.

In the country of Mahatma Gandhi, about whom various personalities, social reformers of the world accepted in one voice, that the concept of human rights remains incomplete without Gandhiji. The background of human rights is the result of Gandhiji’s vision and philosophy. When ‘Ba’ told Gandhiji that even proper clothes are not available for poor women in the country, then he himself gave up clothes and spent all his life in only in a dhoti. In such a country of Gandhi, if my personal privacy puts someone’s life in danger, then it is an immoral luxury.

When we talk about fundamental rights, it should be noted that it is equal for all. The basic right of intellectuals or journalists, lawyers, conscious activists, poets or politicians or bureaucrats of aristocratic class are not greater than the basic right of any other person.

The right to life is equal for all and the marginalized deprived the poor, laborers, tribal, dalit or backward class women, men and transgender have the right to know that the person they are coming in contact with is somewhere not getting them  infection.

Identification has been a common procedure for dealing with serious infectious diseases. Such certification has been done in the world as per the prevailing countrywide circumstances. Even in India, a whole generation has shown themselves safe certified with marks of smallpox vaccine in their arm.

Extremists can take the autonomy of the right to privacy to give their own lives, but no one can be given the autonomy to create a crisis on the life of another.

At least I cannot allow myself that because of me, those hard-working people who are the sole responsible people of their families can come in contact with me in my daily work like security guards, drivers, gardeners, liftmen, and sweeper.  Their right to life is much above than my right to privacy. In my view, to put someone’s life in danger whom I cannot protect is a human rights violation.

The right to live life is supreme in the list of basic rights of human beings; it is my highest duty as a human being to ensure the right to life of those who are deprived. People in India and around the world who are protesting remedial methods like “ArogyaSetu” on the pretext of violation of the right to privacy are in fact the people of narrow thought influenced by the narrative of the destructive agenda and there is no exaggeration in writing here that these people belong to the same Nero category, who preferred the luxury of their personal privacy rather than saving the burning Rome.


(The author is Shri Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Govt. of India)

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