Opinion

Breaking!!! Does SC uphold the right to privacy as a fundamental right?!!!

The government has argued that the Constitution does not guarantee individual privacy as an inalienable fundamental right.

Critics argued that although the right to privacy is not explicitly set out in India’s constitution, it nevertheless guarantees it implicitly.

Gopal Subramanium, a lawyer for the petitioners, argued before the nine judges. “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, and “Our constitution gives us the liberty to live life,” ” he said.

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict on whether individual privacy is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. The ruling delivered by a rare nine-member bench and is based on an array of petitions that challenge the mandatory use of Aadhaar cards which assign a unique 12-digit ID to every citizen.

This decision is a setback for the government: Prashant Bhushan!

Any law which is made to restrict this fundamental right will have to be examined keeping Article 21 in mind,” said Prashant Bhushan.

He added that “For example if the government tomorrow says that your Aadhaar card will be required for your travel and income tax filings, that will be an unreasonable restriction.”

This decision is a setback for the government,” he claimed.

Earlier, The government has argued that the Constitution does not guarantee individual privacy as an inalienable fundamental right.

“I’m so happy I kept faith in the Supreme Court. So many people told me not to but I believed in those judges with all my heart and they really came through. We are so lucky to have a Supreme Court that stands up for us,” Chinmayi Arun, executive director of Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi, said.

The petitioners said that enforcing the use of Aadhaar is an infringement of privacy. They also stressed that the Aadhaar database was originally presented as a purely voluntary programme that offered to provide every Indian with an identity card.

The Aadhaar database links iris scans and fingerprints to more than a billion people. The court today will not rule on the reach of Aadhaar – that will be decided separately by a smaller bench, the judges have said.

The government said, ” 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. It has rejected suggestions that the Aadhaar programme, set up in 2009 by the previous Congress-led government, poses a threat to civil liberties.”

Critics said, ” the Aadhaar identity card links enough data to allow profiling because it creates a comprehensive profile of a person’s spending habits, their friends and acquaintances, the property they own, and a trove of other information. There are fears the data could be misused by a government that argues Indians have no right to privacy. There have been recurring reports of Aadhaar details being accidentally released, including on government websites.”

In May, security researchers discovered that the Aadhaar information of as many as 135 million people had leaked online. UIDAI, the agency that governs Aadhaar, has repeatedly said that its data is secure.

Earlier, Petitioners said 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 with an impact on personal freedoms.”

Reading out the “operative portion” of the judgment, Khehar made following observations:

– The decision in MP Sharma overruled.
– Decision in Kharak Singh, to the extent it says Right to Privacy is not part of Right to Life, is over ruled
– Right to Privacy is an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty under Article 21.
– Decisions subsequent to Kharak Singh which held privacy as part of the right to life are correct.
– A number of writ petitions were tagged along with Justice K Puttaswamy’s petition on Aadhaar, which led to the constitution of this 9 Judge Bench. A slew of Senior Advocates had appeared for various parties in the case.

Supreme Court has finally declared at, “Personal data cannot be used for Public use. Right to privacy is a fundamental right.”


Tapaswi

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