Friday, November 13, 2009

Anonymization of Court Judgments

Indian Kanoon has been pretty useful for people seeking information on Indian Law. Over time Indian Kanoon reputation on general search engines like google and yahoo improved and as a result pages from Indian Kanoon started surfacing in the top few of search results. So one completely inadvertent thing that happened was that people would go on google/yahoo and type someone's name and see the indiankanoon court judgment related to that person. As many of these judgments are on issue that may be societally bad, many people started feeling embarrassed by their court judgments. To be fair in many cases these people were right. But definitely one has to read the judgments to realize that.

The next thing that happened was that many folks sent me legal threats that I should remove court judgments corresponding to them. Some even claimed that they are currently citizen of countries in which such information is private and I should remove these documents immediately. A few nuanced requests only asked for restricting search engines from indexing these documents by putting these URLs under robots.txt.

As court judgments constitute public records, removing them from the website was out of question. However, restricting generic search engines from indexing such judgments was not that bad. One problem is that someone may be looking for information on a person and he or she will miss that because it is not indexed by generic search engines. After all a person acquitted by a court judgment is only legally right and societal or individual values may differ. So people should be free to decide on the issue by reading these court judgments. The second issue is that these court judgments also brings new users to Indian Kanoon and make them more knowledgable about law. So till now I have been doing nothing with such requests.

Recently a law suit has been filed in Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking for name anonymization in one of the court judgments. The order is here. That particular court judgment refers to a copyright infringement case related to a woman. It seems strange that court will ask to anonymize the name in this case as it does not relate to a woman being a victim of a sexual nature and not a minor. However, the AP high court has taken up this writ petition and it seems possible that the court may decide in the favor of plaintiff.

One question that is of interest is what is the bar for name anonymization in court judgments. It seems like if there is no such bar, then no one would want their name on the records. My search on Indian Kanoon did not reveal much as it seems like this issue has not been addressed in depth till now.


The search on IK reveals a bunch of cases when names have been withheld: http://indiankanoon.org/search/?formInput="name+withheld"

However, almost all of these cases are when a woman is a victim of sexual nature. So it will be interesting to know if the courts order anonymization in cases related to copyright infringement.

7 comments:

Tom said...

Sir, I would like to request you to remove a post from indiankanoon.org, the case is about my sister. She has already gone through lot of pain bcoz of this case. Our family became so depressed seeing her name and the respondents name in google search. She is going to get married and worried tht this may again torment her life. Please consider this as a request from a brother. Kindly remove the post, since this case has already broke her life once.

the link for the case - http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/915386/

Leela said...

Completely agreed with Tom. Even, I have requested the same for my friend. Asking the Anonymization of Court Order is rude. Already people suffered and trying to escape from cases. Now the site owner is asking to file another case and get a court order. Up on humanity this has to be done. Searching by Name and finding the case details is horrible to the affected people. From the blog, it is understood that you have got many requests for the same.Please take necessary action up on many requests.

SATYA said...

Can cases cited on your site be produced before courts in support of a case on similar facts?

Anonymous said...

I’d like to start off congratulating you on your great effort. It’s about time someone like you did this to HELP people in search of legal info, let me rethink, HELP?, lets see, if I, or for that matter, anyone were to find a judgment copy to help their legal battle, it’s a great resource. I’m very positive no one would argue about that piece. On the flip side let’s see, if YOU (Sushant Sinha) or I were accused by a girl/friend/mate of RAPE/ CHARACTER ASSANIATION/498A or any other charge, after spending/overcoming emotional stress your valuable energy/time/money/ you would win/loose the case. Do you want to cherish this for the rest of your life, just because SOMEONE ON THE STREET ACCUSED you on flimsy charge, my question is simple, WHO GIVES THE RIGHT TO ACCUSE ANYONE, AND WHY SHOULD THE ACCUSED LIVE WITH IT FOR THE REST OF THE LIFE, WHEN THE PERSON IS INNOCIENT. How can you live your life peacefully when your friends/family/employers/everyone would keep pointing to the same misery you went through? You might aswell DIE rather then going through this stress. How may people would read the ENIRE judgment copy and how may people can you convince that you are innocent. Now the point is who is interested to know if it was Sushant Sinha or Joe blow down the street. The reader is only interested in learning about the sections used in the case and circumstances of the case to see if it could help him in fighting his case. I honestly don’t get it, why are you having everyone’s name available on-line???? Let me tell you, I have been there and see that, just because someone like you still kept my info online I lost many opportunities. In my case I had a Interpole warrant issued against me by some B***h whom I met only once in my life. The court quashed the case and I was acquitted, now tell me if someone like you, still kept my info that an interpole warrant was issued against me, would you want to have me married to your sister after reading this info online. Just think, people go to court on flimsy grounds on many occasions, and I’m very positive that police can have anyone in a false case. My sincere request to you is please keep doing what you are doing without hurting anyone, I’m sure it’s not too much to ask for. Just imagine, (sorry to use coarse language) if you, your mother/sister/wife/father/brother are charged by some ********** in a rape case or 498A case or any other case, over a period of time you may have won/lost. Can you live your life peacefully, if it’s available online as FIRST search result in GOOGLE? The issue is not whether it’s you name or mine, what good are you doing by exposing innocent names? For the last time, please don’t talk about ‘YOUR POLICY’ on public document. I can bet you, if you are accused on a RAPE/498A case and win, you don’t want your name to be available online, if you are saying yes, please let me know, I can defiantly find a B***h to file a false against you and see how long you would survive. I have read about your Top Innovators Under 35, your Phd and what ever, anyone (including your parents) can tell that your education or your smartness would be of no use if it’s HURTING MANY. I know I’m writing a lot, but, let me finish off with this famous law saying, ‘100 convicts can live freely outside without punishment, But not a single innocent human being should not be punished’ . I hope you continue your good work and HELP people out of their misery not put them to misery and some common sense prevails!

Anonymous said...

Sir,

You are humbly requested to remove the case number http://indiankanoon.in/doc/30447914/ as it effects our personal lives.

You have no right to publicize anyone's personal information without their prior permission.

If the above said post has not been removed from your website within days,

I am sorry to say in disciplinary action will be taken against you for the same.

Already we have gone through many hardships facing the verdict ,now we dont want to cherish all that through your blog or website.

You may doing good and helping some by providing the facts on cases but dont forget all these are nothing related to you, and you have nothing to lose.

Anonymous said...

I am going to file a PIL IN Kerala High Court to block India Kanoon

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to make money out of this website? If you want money to remove names or hide from Serach engines from your website. announce in your blog, Probably you can make hell lot of money. But no point exploiting peoples by taking their reputation.

 
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