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Published On: Thu, Aug 24th, 2017

landmark judgement: Individual privacy is a fundamental right Says Supreme Court

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Supreme-court1kdNEW DELHI : In a landmark judgement that will impact the lives of 134 crore Indians and may give a massive jolt to government’s Aadhaar push, a nine-judge Supreme Court Constitutional bench today said Right to Privacy is a Fundamental right.
Delivering a unanimous verdict, Supreme Court overruled the earlier eight-judge bench judgment in MP Sharma case and six-judge bench judgment in Kharak Singh case — both of which had ruled that privacy is not a Fundamental Right. Delivering a unanimous verdict, Supreme Court overruled the earlier eight-judge bench judgment in MP Sharma case and six-judge bench judgment in Kharak Singh case — both of which had ruled that privacy is not a Fundamental Right.  The apex court said Right to Privacy is intrinsic to Right to Life granted under Article 21 of the Constitution.
A  nine-bench judge unanimously ruled that individual privacy is a fundamental right, overruling it’s own 55-year-old judgements of 1962 and 1954. The top court, however, deferred its statement on Aadhaar issue for later. The court also said that the ruling will have large scale implication on national issues. In a brief statement, Chief Justice JS Khehar said privacy was “protected as an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty”.
A decision on Aadhaar will be taken by a separate and smaller bench of the top court. However, today’s judgement can significantly weaken Centre’s position on Aadhaar Cards, which collects fingerprints and iris scan. Citizens can now refuse to give their biometric authentication, said an SC advocate.
SC’s ruling will have an impact on 134 crore Indians. It will also have a bearing on several other verdicts including the Aadhaar card, WhatsApp privacy policy and Section 377 which criminalises gay sex. On September 23, 2016, the Supreme Court was hearing a challenge on Delhi High Court’s order which allowed WhatsApp to roll out its new privacy policy but stopped it from sharing the user data collected up to September 25, 2016, with Facebook or any other related company.
This is the second big judgement of the Supreme Court within the span of a week. On Tuesday, the top court banned triple talaq, declaring it ‘arbitrary’ and ‘unconstitutional’. In 1954, in the case of MP Sharma vs Satish Chandra, the issue of searching and seizing documents from a person against whom a first information report (FIR) has been lodged, came before an eight-judge Constitution bench. The bench held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution.
1962: Kharak Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh
Next came the case of Kharak Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh. Singh, a dacoit, had challenged the UP police surveillance on grounds of infringement of his fundamental rights to move freely and right to life and personal liberty. A six-judge bench of Supreme Court ruled that “privacy was not a guaranteed constitutional right” but, held that Article 21 (right to life) was the repository of residuary personal rights and recognized the common law right to privacy.
1975: Govind vs State Of Madhya Pradesh
In this case, petitioner Govind had argued that for his right to protect personal intimacies at home. The top court confirmed that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, but not absolute.
1977-78: Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India

Maneka Gandhi, the daughter-in-law of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was issued a passport in 1976. Following the incidents after the Emergency in India, she received a letter from Government of India to impound her passport “in public interest” under Section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act. Responding to a writ petition filed by Gandhi, the Supreme Court held that right to travel abroad fell falls under the right to personal liberty. A landmark case, the top court ruling became a turning point in the interpretation of the right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.
1995: R Rajagopal vs Union of India

Shankar, imprisoned for six murders, wanted to publish his story. However, authorities cancelled the publication of his biography. Shankar challenged this in court. The top court held that he has a constitutional right to publish and it falls under the right to personal liberty. It further recognized that the right to privacy can be both an actionable claim and also a fundamental right.
2004: R. Sridhar vs R. Sukanya And Ors.

R Sridhar, estranged husband of Indian actress Sukanya, moved to the Supreme Court over divorce and marital dispute. US-based Sridhar, in his petition, contended that Indian courts have no jurisdiction to hear their divorce suit since their marriage was performed in the United States under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
Sukanya filed a petition requesting that the media be restrained from publishing details of the case and her privacy be respected. The Madras High Court, rejecting trial court’s judgement, said that all court proceedings shall be held in-camera but restrained the media from reporting on the case. Judgement ruled in favour of Right to Privacy over right to publish news.
2006: Naz Foundation vs Government of Delhi
The Supreme Court condemned Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which discriminate against a section of individuals on the basis of sexual orientation. However, the court did not strike down the provision and said that it is the Parliament’s job to change it.
2014: UIDAI & Anr vs CBI
When the Central Bureau of Investigation sought the access to Unique Identification Authority of India’s database for investigating a criminal offence, the SC refused, stating that the UIDAI can not transfer any biometrics without the consent of the person.

2015: Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) & Anr. vs Union of India
In October, the top court set up a constitutional bench to examine if Aadhaar is an invasion of citizen’s privacy
2016: WhatsApp case (Karmanya Singh Sareen & Anr v Union of India and Ors) The SC while 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, stopped it from sharing the data of its users collected up to September 25, 2016, with Facebook or any other related company.(with Agency Inputs).

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