Privacy part of Right to Liberty: Supreme Court

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 24, 2017 12:20 hrs
Privacy restored!

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right. It said that an individual's privacy is a part of right to life and liberty.

The ruling is based on various petitions challenging the mandatory use of Aadhaar card.

Following this, a five-judge constitutional bench will decide whether the Aadhar violates the Right to Privacy or not.

Read: Achche Din and the Aadhaar con

A nine-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice R.K. Agrawal, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer had reserved the verdict on August 2 after hearing the matter for two weeks.

Hearing had commenced on July 19 and concluded on August 2.

The entire issue was rooted in a reference by a three-judge bench that was hearing a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Scheme on the grounds of its being violative of the fundamental right to privacy.

The petitioners included former Karnataka High Court Judge K.S. Puttaswamy, first Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, and others.

However, the Centre contested their position citing two judgments of 1954 (by eight judges) and 1962 (by six judges) which had held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right.

The Centre had contended that though after the mid-seventies several judgments by the benches of strength of two or three judges had held that right to privacy was fundamental but it was the judgment of 1954 and 1962 by the larger benches that holds the ground.

It was in this background that the nine-judges constitution bench heard the matter to examine the correctness or otherwise of the 1954 and 1962 judgments and the nature of the right to privacy - whether fundamental or not.

The hearing saw a partisan divide with the Centre and BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Gujarat contending that right to privacy was not a fundamental right and those ruled by the Congress - Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and TMC in West Bengal asserting that privacy was a fundamental right.

The Unique Identification Authority of India too said that privacy was not a fundamental right and there were sufficient safeguards to protect data collected from the people - their iris scan and finger prints.

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