#RightToPrivacy: 9 judges to decide if you can have it under Indian Constitution

Is the ‘Right to Privacy’ a fundamental right?

Adhaar case: The Supreme Court has constituted a nine judge bench to decide if ‘Right to Privacy’ is a fundamental right. The bench will here take arguments in the same regards. This is a follow-up of the petition that challenged the government’s decision of making Adhaar cards mandatory for various public welfare schemes in the Apex court. The petition is arguing that Adhaar that requires biometric details encroaches on a citizen’s right to privacy.

The arguments by the petitioners on the one hand, and the government, on the other hand, will be heard today by no lesser than 9 judges’ panel. The panel is headed by Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar, and including Justice J Chelameswar, Justice SA Bobde, Justice RK Agarwal, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Abdul Nazeer. The panel will review the correctness of the previous judgments made by the court which said Privacy sure is a right of a citizen, but not a fundamental right.

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Though the government has made it very clear that it will be going forward arguing that yes, the right to privacy is indeed a right and is available, but it flows from common law. The subsequent argument essentially is that there is no explicit provision in the Constitution, unlike the fundamental rights which have been clearly listed.

On the other hand, Congress has been continuously presenting its take on the issue by saying that Adhaar was never meant to be mandatory and this sudden U-turn by the central government is something we need to be worried about.

Who said What?

  • “The consequences are huge,” said constitutional scholar Menaka Guruswamy. “If the court rules for the government, then it’s going to impact all kinds of footprints of citizens, both professionally, and in their private lives,” Guruswamy said.
  • SD: “Yes. It is an internationally recognized human right.”
  • CJI, Jagdish Singh Khehar: “The report says that privacy is a basic human right in international law.”
  • Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium: “Liberty is the fundamental value of our Constitution. Life and liberty are natural existing rights that our Constitution has. Now can liberty be at all experienced without privacy? Can liberty be exercised without privacy at least with regard to all the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution,”
  • “In a Republic founded on a written Constitution, it is difficult to accept there is no fundamental right to privacy,” Financial Express had quoted the Supreme Court as saying on Tuesday.
  • “Even freedom of the press is not explicit in the Constitution but courts have interpreted right to free speech includes freedom of expression of the press,” NDTV had quoted one of the judges in the Supreme Court as saying.

How is the common man reacting? Here are some of the reactions rooted from Twitter.

What’s next?

Wait and watch!

Stay tuned to know does the government gets the right to peek into our privacy or will the ‘Right to Privacy’ be declared as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court. But let me tell you if it does rule that privacy is a fundamental right, then all cases relating to the Aadhaar scheme will go back to the original three-judge bench or five-judge bench.
Meanwhile, share in the comments below what’s your take on the issue.

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