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Right to Privacy a Fundamental Right: Landmark Cases That Have Recognised It

A look at the landmark cases that have discussed and also elaborated on Right to Privacy.


Updated:August 24, 2017, 11:26 AM IST
Right to Privacy a Fundamental Right: Landmark Cases That Have Recognised It
A woman goes through the process of eye scanning for Unique Identification (UID) database system. (Representative Image /REUTERS)

New Delhi: A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday on that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right. However, there have been several cases previously where Indian courts have recognised the Right to Privacy. Take a look at the landmark cases that have discussed and also elaborated on Right to Privacy:

Kharak Singh v. The State of U.P. (1962). A minority opinion recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right. The minority judges said that right to privacy was both the right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as well.

Govind v. State of M.P. (1975). In this case, the SC confirmed that the right to privacy is a fundamental right. The right was said to include and protect personal intimacies of the home, marriage, family, motherhood, etc. but it also observed that it was subject to “compelling state subject”.

R. Rajagopal v. Union of India (1994). The apex court said that the right is a part of the right of a personal to personal liberty that is guaranteed under the Constitution. It further recognized that the right to privacy can be both an actionable claim and also a fundamental right.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India (1996). This case before the Supreme Court extended the right to privacy to communications. The court laid down regulations in interception provisions in the country like such orders were to be issued by the home secretaries only, necessity of the information was the considered, etc. Further it capped two months onto the life of an interception order.

District Registrar and Collector, Hyderabad and another v. Canara Bank and another (2004). This Supreme Court judgment refers to personal liberty, freedom of expression and freedom of movement as the fundamental rights that further gives rise to the right to privacy.

Petronet LNG LTD vs. Indian Petro Group and Another (2006). This was before the Delhi HC and it was established that firms cannot assert a fundamental right to privacy.

Selvi and others v. State of Karnataka and others (2010). Interestingly, the SC made a difference between physical privacy and mental privacy. The case also established a connection of the right to privacy with Article 20(3) (self-incrimination).

Unique Identification Authority of India & Anr. v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2014). The Central Bureau of Investigation sought access to the huge database complied by the Unique Identity Authority of India for the purposes of investigating a criminal offence. The SC, however, said that the UIDAI was not to transfer any biometrics without the consent of the person.

Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. (2015). The Unique Identity Scheme was discussed along with right to privacy. The question before the court was whether such a right is guaranteed under the Constitution. The attorney general of Indian argued that it privacy is not a fundamental right guaranteed to Indian citizens.

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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