Sharing Google Pin Location As A Bail Condition Infringes The Right To Privacy Under Article 21: Supreme Court






Case Title: Frank Vitus vs Narcotics Control Bureau

A division bench of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan of the Supreme Court’s recent observation highlighted that requiring the sharing of a Google pin location as a bail condition infringes upon the right to privacy as safeguarded by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The bench said, “It cannot be a bail condition. We agree that there are two instances where this Court has done it, but it cannot be a condition for bail”.

The Bench had previously instructed Google India to elucidate the functionality of its pin location-sharing feature on Google Maps. This request aimed to assess whether mandating accused individuals to share their Google pin location would potentially infringe upon their right to privacy.

The Court explicitly stated that Google India was not being made a party to the case but rather was being approached solely for information. Following today’s session with Google, the Court has deferred its decision on using Google pin location as a bail condition.

The Supreme Court was reviewing an appeal against specific conditions set by the Delhi High Court in its interim bail order for Nigerian national Frank Vitus, an accused in a drug-related case.

The High Court, in 2022, had mandated the accused and a co-defendant to mark their locations on Google Maps as a bail condition. Additionally, the Delhi High Court required them to secure confirmation from the Nigerian High Commission regarding their presence in India and their commitment to attend court proceedings.

Expressing disagreement with these conditions, the Supreme Court granted interim bail to the accused. In a related context, a separate Bench led by Justice Oka in July of the preceding year had strongly criticized a bail condition that obligated an accused individual in a money-laundering case to continuously share their location details with the police through Google pin sharing.

The Bench verbally indicated that such a requirement might amount to surveillance.

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