The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has ordered that the name and personal details of a person acquitted in a rape case be redacted from the court’s orders and judgements, Bar and Bench reported on Wednesday.

The bench invoked the principle of the “right to be forgotten” while directing that the name of the acquitted person be deleted from the records. It said that the courts “cannot close their eyes to the concerns of privacy” and that the litigants’ past is not left behind in parts of the records that are no longer relevant.

The person had approached the division bench after a single-judge bench rejected his plea to redact his name from court records in the case. The trial court had convicted him for rape and cheating before the High Court acquitted him.

The single-judge bench had dismissed his petition seeking his details to be redacted on the grounds that the High Court was a court of record and hence the name and personal information could not be removed from the court registry.

In his petition before the division bench, the person said that the right to be forgotten was a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. He also submitted that the redaction of name and identity were legal entitlements as per the 2021 Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules.

The division bench noted in its order that while the sanctity of the court records cannot be diluted, courts should perform a “balancing act between aggregation of data required to perform its functions and protection of personal data so collected”, Bar and Bench reported.

The bench also said that the masking of names in court records was not a new concept and terms such as “XYZ” have been used instead of the real names.

Meanwhile, in another case, the Karnataka High Court has asked the media to consider erasing from online platforms the names of the accused who are acquitted in criminal cases if they demand for the same, Bar and Bench reported on Wednesday.

The bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna also ordered the court registry to mask the name of the person acquitted in the case from orders uploaded on its website.