Should Indians Have a Fundamental Right to Privacy? Yes, Say Petitioners
A woman goes through the process of eye scanning for Aadhaar. (REUTERS)
Appearing for the petitioners, legal eagles Gopal Subramaniam, Soli Sorabjee and Shyam Divan had strongly urged the Court to include the right to privacy in the list of fundamental rights.
New Delhi: Supreme Court of India on Thursday decided that Indian citizens have a fundamental right to privacy, in a judgment that will have far reaching consequences. A bench of nine judges including the Chief Justice of India, Justice Khehar, Justices J. Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agarwal, Rohinton Nariman, AM Sapre, DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer heard the case.
The Constitutional bench was constituted in 2015 following a reference made in the Aadhaar case (Puttuswamy & Anr WP Civil No. 494 of 2012). Activists, academics and lawyers skeptical of the Unique ID project have been waiting since then for the resolution of the question of whether or not the apex court decides if the right to privacy is a fundamental right.
As the project has grown, so have questions on its success and validity in assuring the security and welfare of the country.
Appearing for the petitioners, legal eagles Gopal Subramaniam, Soli Sorabjee and Shyam Divan had strongly urged the Court to include the right to privacy in the list of fundamental rights. "All human choices are an exercise of liberty and they all presuppose privacy," Subramaniam had argued.
“We have an unbroken line of decisions since 1975 recognising the right to privacy. Privacy includes the right to be left alone, freedom of thought, freedom to dissent, bodily integrity, informational self-determination,” said Divan.
Moreover, there have been much talks about exclusion of the poor, the devastation of welfare programs and the threat of mass surveillance. The petitioners have also questioned the violation of the right to privacy when information is collected under Aadhar.
If the SC rules in favour of the petitioners it will be drawing upon international conventions to read in new rights into the existing set of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution. For instance, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a signatory, has expressly recognized the right to privacy.