We were not even over the Triple Talaq judgment yet and here was Supreme Court waiting with another landmark verdict for the entire nation on the morning on 24th of August. The debate on Right to Privacy had been doing its round for months now and clear hand on it was the need of the hour.
Well, with all the overflowing tweets and joyous celebration across the country, we are aware that now each one of us has a ‘Right to Privacy’ which shall be guarded under fundamental constitutional right. The verdict is a major setback for the government, which had argued that the constitution does not guarantee individual privacy as an inalienable fundamental right.
Of course, this fundamental right too, like the rest, shall have its own reasonable restrictions but the Nine-Judge Constitution bench unanimously stated that, ‘The right to privacy shall be protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution’.
The case is referred to as Justice K S Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. vs Union of India & Ors.
The bench comprised of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, Rohinton Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.
The legal eagles who spoke in favor of the government against the inclusion of right to privacy as fundamental right included Attorney General KK Venugopal, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Arvind Datar, Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramaniam, Shayam Divan, Anand Grover, CA Sundaram and Rakesh Dwivedi. The team appearing on behalf of the petitioner included dynamic and influential people like Gopal Subramanium, Soli Sorabjee and Shyam Divan.
The apex court declared the following on clear terms:
- The decision in M P Sharma vs. Satish Chandra (1954), that privacy is not a fundamental right stands overruled
- The decision in Kharak Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (1962), that privacy is not a fundamental right stands overruled
- Right to privacy is protected as intrinsic part of right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution
And, as far as the Aadhaar matter is concerned, the court did not rule anything on the validity of sharing information under Aadhaar today. That decision shall be taken by a separate and smaller bench consisting of five judges of the Supreme Court who will test the validity of Aadhaar from the aspect of privacy as a fundamental right.