Right to Privacy a Fundamental Right: What the Centre Said in Supreme Court
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and the Union government end up up losing the argument.
The Centre had submitted in SC that the right to life of millions of poor was much more important than the privacy concerns thus raised by the elite class. The argument went to an extent where attorney general KK Venugopal said that such privacy claims were not meant to be a priority in a country like India “where a vast majority of citizens don’t have access to basic needs.”
Strongly defending Aadhaar, he said the right to privacy cannot be invoked to scrap the scheme. With Rs 6,300 crore spent, the government categorically said there was no going back now.
“No need to recognise an independent right to privacy. It is more a sociological notion than jural concept,” Attorney General K K Venugopal told the SC.
The government said defining contours of privacy isn't possible. “Privacy is as good a notion as pursuit of happiness,” the AG said.
Venugopal further said there was a reason why right to privacy was removed from Article 21, adding that rights under the latter were not absolute either. “That is why we have a death penalty for gross crimes and incarceration of crime,” the AG said.
The contentious issue of Right to Privacy emerged when the apex court was dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes.
Initially, on July 7, a three-judge bench had said that all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench and the Chief Justice of India would take a call on the need for setting up a Constitution bench. The matter was then mentioned before CJI Khehar who set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the matter.
However, the five-judge constitution bench on July 18 decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether the right to privacy can be declared a fundamental right under the Constitution.