The Supreme Court is on a reformative spree. After delivering verdicts on triple Talaq ban, Article 370, the apex judicial authority delivered a historical verdict today by pronouncing that individual privacy is a fundamental right. The apex court said that right to privacy is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
A rare nine- judge bench gave the ruling that has brought a radical change in the legal machinery of India. It is based on a string of petitions that challenged the mandatory use of Aadhaar cards which assign a unique 12-digit ID to every citizen.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior lawyers Gopal Subramaniam, Shayam Divan and Sorabjee contented that enforcing the use of Aadhaar is an infringement of privacy. They also stressed that the Aadhaar provision was presented as a voluntary programme that offered to provide every Indian with an identity card. The database of Aadhaar ID has been previously tampered with.
To arrive at the decision, the Hon’ble court overruled previous verdicts on right to privacy delivered by the court in case of M P Sharma (1950) and Kharak Singh (1960). In both the cases, right to privacy was not upheld to be a fundamental right. The decision came unanimously.
Chief Justice JS Khehar delivered the operative portion of the judgement. He said the subsequent verdicts pronounced after M P Sharma and Kharak Singh have laid down the correct position of the law. The bench iterated that right to privacy is protected intrinsically as part of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Others members of the bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, S K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer supported the same view.
The Aadhaar database links iris scans and fingerprints to more than a billion people. According to the latest ruling, individual privacy is a fundamental right.
P Chidambram, former Finance Minister tweeted “Privacy is a fundamental right. The freedom that was won in 1947 has been enriched and enlarged.”
A battery of senior lawyers, including Attorney General KK Venugopal, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Arvind Datar, Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramaniam, Shayam Divan, Anand Grover, CA Sundaram and Rakesh Dwivedi, had advanced arguments in favour and against the inclusion of the right to privacy as a fundamental right.
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