The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a nine-judge constitution bench the question whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right on which hinges the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

Referring the matter to the larger bench, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar said that hearing in the matter will commence on Wednesday.

Justice Khehar said the bench will decide “whether there is no right of privacy in the Indian Constitution”.The apex court said that the nine-judge bench will also examine the correctness of the position taken by a eight-judge bench in 1954, and subsequently by a six-judge bench in 1962.

The court said both in 1954 and 1962, the benches had held that privacy is a not a fundamental right.

However, after the mid-1970s, benches of two and three -judges had consistently taken the position that privacy is a fundamental right.

The issue whether privacy is a fundamental right is pivotal to the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme and touchstone of right to privacy, said a bunch of petitions before the court.

The petitioners have contended that the collection of iris scan and fingerprints by the State violate the right to privacy of the citizens.

The apex court said that if the nine-judge bench after examining the matter decides that right to privacy is a fundamental right then all matters relating to the Aadhaar scheme will go back to the original three-judge bench.


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