Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right – Implications of the Verdict

In a landmark judgement on 24-08-2017, a nine-judge Supreme Court Constitutional bench declared Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right. The stand taken by Supreme Court may turn as a massive setback to the Government’s push to link multiple identities with Aadhaar – which is alleged to compromise privacy.

The Petition to declare Privacy as Fundamental Right

It was the Aadhar push by the Central government, which made many citizens file petitions before the Supreme Court – to declare Privacy as Fundamental Right. There were 20+ Aadhar related cases. The petitioners wanted Supreme Court to recognize, among other things, a fundamental right to privacy under the Constitution.

Petitioners included Former Karnataka HCjudge KS Puttaswamy (now 91) and activists Bezwada Wilson, Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey. (Reference: Times of India)

Supreme Court’s earlier verdicts overruled – that too by a 9-0 majority!

Delivering a unanimous verdict, Supreme Court overruled the earlier eight-judge bench judgment in MP Sharma case and six-judge bench judgment in Kharak Singh case – both of which had ruled that privacy is not a Fundamental Right. (Reference: Economic Times)

Supreme Court of India has held that right to privacy is a Fundamental Right and it is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. This verdict has a huge impact on the lives of 134 crore Indians.

Decision yet to be taken on the validity of information sharing via Aadhar

The 9-judge bench has not decided the fate of Aadhaar, only the nature and status of the right to privacy under the Constitution.

A five-judge bench of the apex court will test the validity of Aadhaar from the aspect of privacy as a Fundamental Right soon. Any law, like the Aadhar Act, which seeks to restrict the right to privacy, will now have to be tested on the touchstone of Article 21.

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