Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the Supreme Court judgment recognising Right to Privacy as a fundamental right is a “positive development” and added that it will be subject to “fair, just and reasonable” restrictions like all other rights.
He added that using private information through Aadhaar was “just” as it entailed dissemination of social benefits.
“It is a positive development that judgment after judgment, as evolution takes place, fundamental rights are strengthened,” Jaitley said in reference to Thursday’s court order.
The Supreme Court on Thursday held that right to privacy is an integral part of the right to life and liberty that come under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Stressing that the government’s stand on right to privacy was the same as the court’s, Jaitley said that while intervening in a debate on the Aadhaar Bill in the Rajya Sabha, he had himself said the same thing.
The Finance Minister added that the bill which the government brought in as a money bill had provisions for safeguarding privacy.
“Supreme Court says prima facie it can fit into Article 21, in some cases it can go into Article 19… Therefore it will be subject to the restrictions that there are in these articles of Constitution,” he said.
“…Therefore this being a part of privacy, it will depend on case to case, what is the object of restriction that will be placed. It will have to meet the test of being fair, just and reasonable and I think in Aadhaar legislation the restrictions are fair, just and reasonable and the government is only interested in those restrictions that further the objective of dissipation of social welfare programmes, so that it is not cornered by undeserving people,” he said.
“If somebody is in a private act in his room, he will have absolute right to privacy… But if somebody says I will spend large amounts only in cash money and no one has the right to find this out because I have a right to privacy, then that will be subject to restrictions that are just, fair and reasonable.”
He said the matter went to court because the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government brought Aadhaar “without a law and there were no safeguards put by the UPA on how the data will be protected and how the data would be used.”
“So people challenged it saying you are collecting data, what will you do with it, what are the privacy clauses in it.”
He said the National Democratic Alliance government brought the Aadhaar legislation and put in place “special provisions with regard to privacy”.
“Any person who violates it is liable to punishment,” he said.