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SC Declares Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right - (24 Aug 2017)


The Nine Judges Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a historic and landmark Judgment has declared that, right to privacy is a fundamental right in the case of K. Puttaswamy v Union of India and bunch of other petitions.

The Supreme Court has held that, the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty. It was argued before the Supreme Court that, the technology has made it possible to enter a citizen’s house without knocking at his/her door and this is equally possible both by the State and non-State actors and it is an individual’s choice as to who enters his house, how he lives and in what relationship. The privacy of the home must protect the family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation which are all important aspects of dignity. If the individual permits someone to enter the house it does not mean that others can enter the house. The only check and balance is that it should not harm the other individual or affect his or her rights. This applies both to the physical form and to technology. In an era where there are wide, varied, social and cultural norms and more so in a country like ours which prides itself on its diversity, privacy is one of the most important rights to be protected both against State and non-State actors and be recognized as a fundamental right.

While dealing with the issue, the Supreme Court has discussed that Privacy, in its simplest sense, allows each human being to be left alone in a core which is inviolable and yet the autonomy of the individual is conditioned by her relationships with the rest of society. Those relationships may and do often pose questions to autonomy and free choice. The Court further considered that, overarching presence of state and non-state entities regulates aspects of social existence which bear upon the freedom of the individual. The preservation of constitutional liberty is, so to speak, work in progress. Challenges have to be addressed to existing problems. Equally, new challenges have to be dealt with in terms of a constitutional understanding of where liberty places an individual in the context of a social order. The emergence of new challenges is exemplified by this case, where the debate on privacy is being analysed in the context of a global information based society. In an age where information technology governs virtually every aspect of our lives, the task before the Court is to impart constitutional meaning to individual liberty in an interconnected world.

The ruling has come in wake of bunch of petitions which were filed in the Supreme Court in 2015 against the Aadhar scheme launched by Government in respect of collection of personal data terming Aadhaar as breach of privacy. After this judgment, now the Supreme Court will decide whether Aadhaar can be made mandatory for all financial transactions and for benefits of welfare schemes as claimed by the Government. The Judgment is a welcome step for people of this country as in today’s digital era, electronics becoming integral part of person’s life, there is every chance of privacy being compromised and with the coming of this judgment, the person’s individual privacy will be intact and untouched.


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