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UIDAI Says Right to Privacy Verdict a Shot in the Arm for Personal Liberty

The Authority said the Supreme Court in its judgment said that what was required was a “careful and sensitive balance” between individual interests and the legitimate concerns of the state.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:August 24, 2017, 11:54 PM IST
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UIDAI Says Right to Privacy Verdict a Shot in the Arm for Personal Liberty
A nine-judge Supreme Court bench in a unanimous judgment has declared the right to privacy as fundamental right. (Network18 Creatives)
New Delhi: The Unique Identification Authority of India, the statutory body for Aadhaar, welcomed the Supreme Court judgment on Right to Privacy and said it strengthens fundamental rights and personal liberty.

“The judgement reads that personal liberty is not an absolute right but liable to the restrictions provided in the Constitution which will be examined on a case-to-case basis. The Government is of the clear opinion that its legislation are compliant with the tests laid down in the judgement,” sources in the UIDAI said in a statement to CNN-News18.

The Authority said that the apex court in its judgment said that what was required was a “careful and sensitive balance” between individual interests and the legitimate concerns of the state, which would include protecting national security, investigating and preventing crime, encouraging innovation and the spread of knowledge, and preventing the dissipation of social welfare benefits.

A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Right to Privacy as one protected by Article 21 of the Constitution of India, thus bringing it under the ambit of fundamental rights. The UIDAI said that the government welcomed this view, “which is consistent with all the necessary safeguards that the government has been ensuring in its legislative proposals which had been approved by Parliament”.

Sources in the authority added that personal liberty had a “chequered history” during previous Congress governments. Immediately after the Constitution was framed, the central government had maintained that personal liberty could be denied to an individual by any legislation irrespective of the reasonableness of that law.

The sources claimed that Congress governments had consistently argued that privacy was not a part of any constitutional guarantees. “In fact, during the internal emergency when Article 21 was suspended, the Central Government had argued before the Supreme Court that a person could be killed and deprived even his life (let alone liberty) and he would still be remediless,” the source added.

The UPA Government had introduced Aadhaar without any legislative support and it was in that context that the scheme was challenged in the courts. The NDA Government ensured that necessary legislation was approved by Parliament as a money bill. Adequate safeguards were also introduced, the source said.

In March 2016, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while speaking on the Aadhaar Bill in the Rajya Sabha, had clearly stated that where the UPA Government had created an Aadhaar without any legislative support, the present government did exactly the opposite.

It gave a legislative support to Aadhaar and incorporated special safeguards with regard to privacy. It has also assured the Supreme Court that it would soon come out with a data protection law for which a committee headed by Justice Sri Krishna, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, had already been appointed.
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