RIGHT TO PRIVACY VS PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW
One of the rights granted by the 1987 Constitution is the right to privacy as provided in Article III Section 3 of the Bill of Right:
Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.
The Right to Privacy is one of the rights granted to individual citizens guaranteed by the Constitution. Invasion of the right to privacy can be the basis for a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity violating the right. (USLegal.com)(i) However, this right is not absolute. It is subject to some limitations. According to Samuel Warren and Louis D. Brandeis in its book THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY published in Harvard Law Review (1890), the limits of the Right to Privacy are enumerated as follows:
First. The right to privacy does not prohibit any publication of matter which is of public or general interest.
Second. The right to privacy does not prohibit the communication of any matter, though in its nature private, when the publication is made under circumstances which would render it a privileged communication according to the law of slander and libel.
Third. The law would probably not grant any redress for the invasion of privacy by oral publication in the absence of special damage.
Fourth. The right to privacy ceases upon the publication of the facts by the individual, or with his consent.
Fifth. The truth of the matter published does not afford a defense.
Sixth. The absence of "malice" in the publisher does not afford a defense.
SUPREME COURT’s DECISION
Supreme Court decisions are so important because the Supreme Court is the final authority for interpreting the laws and the Constitution. All courts in the country must adhere to the decisions as handed down by the Honorable Supreme Court. The Supreme Court offers online services available to lawyers and the public for inquiry. Supreme Court’s decision is a public record. Public records are any information, minutes, files, accounts or other records which a governmental body is required to maintain, and which must be accessible to scrutiny by the public. This includes the files of most legal actions.(ii)
WHICH RIGHT MUST PREVAIL?
PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW MUST PREVAIL. One of the aforementioned limitations is that the right to privacy does not prohibit any publication of matter which is of public or general interest. And it is also clear from the provision itself that “The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.” Thus, a party litigant who losses in the case cannot request the removal of his name in the Supreme Court’s decision by invoking his right to privacy. The same is true to the one posted in internet. It is provided in Rule 4 Section 1 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence, “An electronic document shall be regarded as the equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule if it is a printout or output readable by sight or other means, shown to reflect the data accurately.”
However, it is a different scenario in rape cases. In such cases it treat the right to privacy with more gravity. It is provided in of Section 5 of Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 that "any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of a complaint for rape, the police officer, the prosecutor, the court and its officers, as well as the parties to the complaint shall recognize the right to privacy of the offended party and the accused." In the same law it is also states that “a police officer, prosecutor or court may order a closed-door investigation, prosecution or trial and that the name and personal circumstances of the offended party and/or the accused, or any other information tending to establish their identities, and such circumstances or information on the complaint shall not be disclosed to the public.”