In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has ruled that individual right to privacy is a guaranteed fundamental right. The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has unanimously declared that Right to Privacy stands as fundamental right under Article 21 and Part 3 of the Constitution of India.
Pronouncing the judgement, Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said, “All judgments that proceeded on the basis that privacy is a Fundamental Right are correct. Privacy is a guaranteed Fundamental Right. ”
The nine-judge bench also overruled the previous two judgments by six-judge and an eight-judge bench of the Supreme Court, which had ruled that Right to Privacy is not a fundamental right.
Senior counsel Prashant Bhushan, who is a party to the case, told reporters: “The judgment doesn’t say anything about the right of citizens to share biometric details for Aadhaar. The nine-judge held that right to privacy is a fundamental right. Any law which is made to restrict this fundamental right will have to be examined keeping Article 21 in mind.
The apex court’s verdict will have a bearing on several other key judgements including mandatory use of Aadhaar and the ruling on Section 377 which criminalises gay sex, oral sex as a criminal offence. Section 66A, IT Act Verdict, DNA profiling without consent
A bench of nine judges comprising of Chief Justice of India, JS Khehar and Justices Jasti Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agarwal, Rohinton Nariman, AM Sapre, DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer passed the verdict which is based on an array of petitions that challenges the mandatory use of Aadhaar. The petioners say that enforcing the use of Aadhaar is an infringement of privacy.
The government has argued that the constitution does not guarantee individual privacy as an inalienable fundamental right.
The government says Aadhaar is essential for all services including tax returns, opening bank accounts and securing loans, pensions and cash transfers for those entitled to welfare schemes.
Petitioners say that if the court rejects privacy as a basic right, it would give the state much greater powers to monitor people and to enact laws which many impact personal freedom.
Gopal Subramanian, a lawyer for petitioners said, “Liberty existed even before the constitution was drafted and it includes privacy. There cannot be a question of diminution but expansion of a right. Right to liberty includes freedom from encroachment on his or her privacy,” he said.
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