Privacy is a Fundamental Right; Supreme Court ruling

As individuals, most of us covet our privacy. We find it objectionable when others look into our private conversations. We argue that our privacy is intrinsic to our personality and there are things that people wouldn’t want anyone else knowing.

Privacy is a Fundamental Right; Supreme Court ruling
Source : LexHindustan

In fact, many people believe, that a certain amount is necessary for a person to exercise their freedom of speech. Keeping an eye over our acts and behaviours can actually be a measure of restriction. Therefore, it comes as a monumental decision that the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the Right to Privacy being a “guaranteed fundamental right”.

Why was the Right to Privacy issue brought to the court?

The issue was brought before a 9 judge bench of the court. It was initiated for multiple reasons, some of which are discussed below:

  • It was to challenge a ruling by the Delhi High Court in 2016. It allowed WhatsApp to bring in a fresh privacy policy, at the same time stopped the sharing of data collected up to the date of the judgement with Facebook and other related companies.
  • Objections were raised to the linking of major facilities with Adhaar. The government had ordered for PAN card, phone number, bank account, etc. to be linked to a person’s Adhaar card.
  • The correctness of previous Supreme Court judgements in the case of Kharak Singh and MP Sharma was also to be tested, where it was held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right.
Image Source: Live Mint

What the Government contends

The government held the opinion that privacy with regard to the government should be seen differently from privacy from private bodies. It was contended by the Government that while privacy was important, it is not absolute. With regard to the linking of Adhaar, the government has maintained it would further the objectives of ‘Digital India’. They also argued that this would bring in increased transparency, and would help them detect and stop leakages in subsidy schemes.

Key aspects and implications of the judgement

The 9 judge bench was lead by Justice JS Khehar, the Chief Justice of India. Given below are other important aspects of the judgement:

  • The unanimous judgement said that privacy is a “guaranteed fundamental right”. In saying so, it has over turned the two previous rulings which said privacy is not a fundamental right. It is at par with right to life under 21 and the right to liberty
  • The ruling of the bench is specific to the current matter of right to privacy. This is not to be applied to the Adhaar linking case; that will be judged separately.
  • Unreasonable restrictions on breach of privacy are likely to be struck down. Therefore, Adhaar linking will now be judged to see whether unreasonable or not. This will prohibit intrusions into a person’s life by the State.
  • Many people believe that this judgement could impact other issues such as homosexuality and its criminalisation under the IPC. The restrictions on consumption of beef and liquor could also be affected. 

The judgement has been applauded by the Country. A second monumental judgement in 2 days, this shows that the judiciary has moved to a progressive thought. Kudos to the Court for standing up for the rights of the citizens. 

Posted by Harshita Chaarag

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