In a landmark judgement, a 9-judge bench of Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously declared privacy as a fundamental right stating that privacy is an integral part of the right to life and liberty.

The nine-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice SA Bobde, Justice RK Agrawal, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice S Abdul Nazeer had reserved the verdict on August 2 after hearing the matter for two weeks.

The verdict now will have a bearing on the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of its being violative of the right to privacy.

It is also likely to have a bearing on the challenge to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy. The top court is hearing a challenge to the Delhi High Court’s September 23, 2016 order by which it allowed WhatsApp to roll out its new privacy policy but stopped it from sharing the data of its users collected up to September 25, 2016, with Facebook or any other related company.

Notably, earlier in July this year, Centre told the Supreme Court that the right to privacy was a fundamental right but not all its facets will be covered under it.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told a nine-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar “There is a fundamental right to privacy, but it is a wholly qualified right since the right to privacy consists of various aspects and is a sub-species of the right to liberty, every aspect of it will not qualify as a fundamental right”.

The Centre had contended that though after the mid-seventies several judgments by the benches of strength of two or three judges had held that right to privacy was fundamental but it was the judgment of 1954 and 1962 by the larger benches that holds the ground.

Highlights: 

11: 45 AM IST | CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, while welcoming the judgement has congratulated the lawyers and the petitioners associated with the case.

“Congratulations to all the lawyers, activists, others who fought this govt’s sinister designs to deny Indians their fundamental right to privacy,” he said.

Yechury in a series of tweets also said that it is a far-reaching judgement which will have consequences in various domains, as technology is playing a greater role in our day-to-day lives.

Speaking on the matter of Aadhaar, he said, “We have been opposed to mandatory Aadhaar, data misuse by foreign tech corporates. This judgement will pave the way for securing our rights.”

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11: 25 AM IST | Speaking to media after the SC verdict on right to privacy, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan said, “Any law passed cannot infringe upon the reasonable restrictions on your right to privacy.”

Speaking further Bhushan also said that the judgment does not comment on the status of Aadhaar and about the right of people to share their biometric details for it. “The matter will be heard by a different smaller bench,” he said.

“It is a setback to the government” that had earlier in its reply to the apex court said that right to privacy was a fundamental right but not all its facets will be covered under it, he added.

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10: 45 AM IST | In a landmark judgment, the 9-Judge bench unanimously declare that privacy is a fundamental right.  The supreme court while giving the verdict said that the privacy will come under the right to life and liberty.

10: 25 AM IST | The 9-Judge bench of Supreme Court to give judgment shortly.

After the nine judges bench decides whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right or not, then a regular bench will hear the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

10: 15 AM IST | Notably, earlier in July this year, Centre told the Supreme Court that the right to privacy was a fundamental right but not all its facets will be covered under it.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told a nine-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar “There is a fundamental right to privacy, but it is a wholly qualified right since the right to privacy consists of various aspects and is a sub-species of the right to liberty, every aspect of it will not qualify as a fundamental right”.

The Centre had contended that though after the mid-seventies several judgments by the benches of strength of two or three judges had held that right to privacy was fundamental but it was the judgment of 1954 and 1962 by the larger benches that holds the ground.

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10: 10 AM IST | RECAP: The entire issue was rooted in a reference by a three-judge bench that was hearing a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Scheme on the grounds of its being violative of the fundamental right to privacy.

The petitioners included former Karnataka High Court Judge KS Puttaswamy, first Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, and others.

However, the Centre contested their position citing two judgments of 1954 (by eight judges) and 1962 (by six judges) which had held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right.

The Unique Identification Authority of India too said that privacy was not a fundamental right and there were sufficient safeguards to protect data collected from the people – their iris scan and finger prints.

After the nine judges bench decides whether right to privacy is a fundamental right or not, then a regular bench will hear the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme. (With Agency Inputs)

First Published | 24 August 2017 10:23 AM
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