Summoning mobile tower location of person not party to matrimonial case violates right to privacy: HC

Summoning of tower location of mobile phones of a person, who is not party to a matrimonial case between a man and a couple, amounts to violation of right to privacy of the third party, said the High Court of Karnataka.

“Third party’s privacy cannot be permitted to be violated on the plea of the husband that he wants to prove illicit relationship between his wife and another man,” the court said.

Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order while allowing a plea filed by a 39-year-old man. The petitioner had questioned the family court’s 2019 order of allowing the husband’s plea for summoning the mobile tower location details of the numbers of his wife and the petitioner alleging that his wife has an illicit relationship with the petitioner.

The mobile tower location details were summoned by the court in a proceeding initiated by the wife in 2018 against her husband seeking annulment of marriage on the ground of cruelty.

The family court had said that summoning of mobile tower location would not violate privacy as the husband was not seeking summoning of conversation through calls and SMS chats but was seeking only tower location details.

“It would undoubtedly violate the right to privacy of the petitioner, who is not a party and who is not put on notice, and whose defence is not permitted to be projected even. Therefore, permitting tower details of the petitioner would be contrary to law without him being in the know of any proceedings between the husband and the wife, but only on an allegation of the husband that the wife is in illicit relationship with the petitioner,” the High Court observed.

Observing that informational privacy also forms an integral part of right to privacy, the High Court said the wife not challenging the family court’s order of summoning the tower location would have no bearing on the right of the petitioner to challenge the order.

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