New Delhi: A nine-judge bench is set to rule whether there is a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution.
The issue requires to be settled after 67 years of a Constitution Bench judgment as a clutch of petitions has claimed Aadhaar violates right to privacy.
With right to privacy being pitched as a fundamental right by the petitioners, a five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar on Tuesday referred the contentious issue to a nine-judge bench for an authoritative ruling.
The nine judges on the bench are CJI JS Khehar, J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agarwal, Rohinton F Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abdul Nazeer.
Since an eight-judge bench verdict of 1950 held there is no fundamental right to privacy, the CJI-led court on Tuesday decided to get the subject examined by a larger bench.
“Right to privacy is a very, very important issue. It is essential to decide whether there is fundamental right to privacy,” said the CJI.
The bench added that the correctness of the two previous judgments in cases of MP Sharma (1950) and Khadak Singh (1960) will be scutinised by the nine-judge bench.
This bench will sit on Wednesday and is likely to conclude the hearing in a day. Once the nine-judge bench decides the sanctity of the right to privacy, the case will come back to the five-judge bench to examine petitioners' allegation that Aadhaar breaches right to privacy.
During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted that the court has to first decide whether it wishes to deal with arguments on the right to privacy. “And if this court wants to examine whether right to privacy is a fundamental right or not, it will have to go to a nine-judge bench since there is already a judgment on this point by an eight-judge bench,” said the AG.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocates Shyam Divan, Gopal Subramanium and Arvind Datar submitted it was incumbent to consider right to privacy as a fundamental right and therefore, a larger bench could take a call.
At this, the CJI observed that it was appropriate to refer this issue to a nine-judge bench and after a decision by the larger bench, the matter could be decided by the five judges.