Privacy is now fundamental right: Know what the SC judges and counsels said

Here is what the judges and counsels have said in the course of the marathon hearings before the historic verdict on right to privacy

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right in India. The nine judge bench today unanimously declared that privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 and Part 3 of the Constitution of India. Here is what the honourable judges and counsels said in the course of the marathon hearings before the historic verdict.

Justice Rohinton Nariman F. Nariman: 

Justice Nariman was of the view that laws should reflect the needs of time and at the same time protect the citizens from violations by the State and non-State players.

“Don’t forget the little man’s right to privacy, everything about right to privacy is not connected to the Aadhaar issue. Laws should reflect the “needs of the times” and protect the citizens from violations by the State and non-State players. It is the duty of the court, and not the legislature, to interpret the law. Privacy can be read into the Constitution as a fundamental right as India is part of the United National Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which declares privacy as an inalienable human right.”

Also Read: Right to Privacy is a fundamental right: 9 judge Supreme Court bench unanimously rules

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud:

Justice Chandrachud tore into Centre’s argument that the privacy is an elitist conduct.

“Essence of human life is when I want to choose solitude, I can choose it. And if I want to socially co-habit, I can do it. You (Centre) are wrong to say that privacy is an elitist construct. Privacy also affects the masses. For example, there is an increase in instances of cervical cancer among women in impoverished families. Right to privacy of these women will be the only right standing in the way of State subjecting them to a ‘health trial’ or, say, compulsory sterilization.”

Chief Justice J.S. Khehar:

CJI’s views were also in line with the rest of judges in the bench, he said, “If what you have been asked to disclose bothers you, then it infringes your right of privacy. Voices concern over possible misuse of personal information in public domain.”

Justice J. Chelameswar:

Justice J. Chelameswar referred to an array of judgements that holds privacy as fundamental right.

“In a Republic founded on a written Constitution, it is difficult to accept there is no fundamental right to privacy… There is a battery of judgments saying privacy is a fundamental right, we cannot ignore them. We have to give serious thought to this question. A right may not necessarily confine itself to one Article in the Constitution or on one amendment.”

Justice S.A. Bobde: “If a man has to die with dignity, he has to have some privacy.”

Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, Arvind Datar, Gopal Subramanium, Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, Soli Sorabjee and Anand Grover had appeared for various individual petitioners arguing in favour of the Right to Privacy. Besides them, the states of Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry had also argued in favour of Privacy.

Also Read: Meet the 9 judges who will decide if privacy is a fundamental right in India

1) Senior counsel Gopal Subramanium: Privacy is a broader concept and data sharing is only one aspect of privacy. Privacy is about the freedom of thought, conscience and individual autonomy and none of the fundamental rights can be exercised without assuming a certain sense of privacy.

2) Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal for the Centre: Privacy is not a single, homogenous right but rather as a bunch of rights spread over the Constitution. The right to privacy is a sub-species of the fundamental right to personal liberty and consists of diverse aspects. Not every aspect of privacy is a fundamental right.

3) Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi for Gujarat government: Transparency is a key component in the modern age and providing basic personal information could not be covered under right to privacy.

4) Counsel for Maharshtra Government: There is no fundamental right to privacy. Privacy must not be elevated to the status of fundamental right. If it has to be elevated as a fundamental right, Parliament can do it via Constitutional amendment.

5) Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta: Privacy is inherently a vague and subjective concept…which is incapable of any precise definition/contours cannot be conferred with a status of Constitutional Fundamental Right.

6) Soli Sorabjee: The fact that privacy is not explicitly laid out doesn’t mean the right doesn’t exist. He argued that the freedom of press has been derived from Article 19 and, similarly, the right to privacy can be derived broadly. It flows in the Constitution.

7) Kapil Sibal appearing for state of Karnataka: The state support the petitioners on the argument that privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. While privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution of America and Australia but it is a fundamental right.

8) Senior counsel Arvind Datar: The right to privacy flows from Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 19 (Freedom of Expression) and Article 21 (Right to Life).

Source: The Hindu

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