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Husband recording wife's phone conversation is violation of her privacy: High Court

Updated: Jan 3

The Chhattisgarh High Court set aside a family court's order and ruled that recording a mobile phone conversation without the knowledge of another person was a violation of privacy.

The Chhattisgarh High Court has ruled that recording the mobile phone conversation of a person without her knowledge amounted to a violation of the right to privacy under Article 21 and set aside a family court's order.

The high court observed that the husband recording his wife's phone conversation without her knowledge was a violation of her right to privacy and also the right of the petitioner guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The high court was hearing a petition moved by a woman challenging a family court's order allowing her husband's application in a maintenance case pending since 2019.

The woman (38) had moved an application for a grant of maintenance from her husband (44) in the family court in Mahasamund district. The husband moved the family court seeking re-examination of his wife on the grounds that a certain conversation was recorded on the mobile phone and he wanted to cross-examine the petitioner and confront her with the conversation recorded on the mobile phone.

The family court, in an order dated October 21, 2021, allowed the man's application, following which the woman approached the high court in 2022 challenging the family court's order, her lawyer Vaibhav A Goverdhan said.

The husband was trying to prove before the family court through mobile conversation that his wife was committing adultery and hence, he need not have to pay maintenance to her once they are divorced, he said.

During the hearing in the high court, the woman's counsel submitted that the family court had committed an error of law by allowing the application as it infringed on the right of privacy of the petitioner, and without her knowledge, the conversation was recorded by her husband and the same cannot be used against her.

He quoted some judgments passed by the Supreme Court and the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.On October 5, High Court Justice Rakesh Mohan Pandey set aside the verdict of the family court.

“It appears that the respondent (husband) has recorded the conversation of the petitioner (wife) without her knowledge behind her back which amounts to the violation of her right to privacy and also the right of the petitioner guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the HC noted.

"Further, the right of privacy is an essential component of the right to life envisaged by Article 21. Therefore, in the opinion of this court, the learned family court has committed an error of law in allowing the application under Section 311 of the CrPC along with the certificate issued under Section 65 of the Indian Evidence Act. Accordingly, the order passed by the learned family court is hereby set aside,” it added.

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