Limits to Privacy

40 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2011 Last revised: 13 Jul 2014

Date Written: May 22, 2011


The legal alibis that the State employs to justify its infringement of our privacy are numerous, and range from 'public interest to 'security of the state to the 'maintenance of law and order'. In this paper, I attempt to build a catalog of these various justifications, without attempting to be exhaustive, with the objective of arriving at a rough taxonomy of such frequently invoked terms. In addition I also examine some the more important justifications such as 'public interest' and 'security of the state' that have been invoked in statutes and upheld by courts to deprive persons of their privacy.

The paper begins with a brief introduction to privacy jurisprudence developed by the Supreme Court by expanding the Right to Life under Article 21 and the Freedom of Expression under Article 19.

This is followed by sections that each evaluate the right to privacy in the context of our communications, our homes, our bodies (including reproductive rights of women) and our records.

Keywords: Privacy, India, DNA, paternity, medical examination, communication, wiretapping, public security, public interest, public documents, narco analysis, brain mapping, truth technologies, handwriting, photographs, constitution, reproductive rights, medical records

Suggested Citation

Iyengar, Prashant, Limits to Privacy (May 22, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Prashant Iyengar (Contact Author)

MESAAS, Columbia University ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

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