Supreme Court observes there’s no absolute right to privacy

By NL Team

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the right to privacy is not absolute. Hearing the privacy argument in relation to the Aadhaar scheme, the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court reiterated its over 50 year stance when the court had decided privacy is not a basic right.

The decision of the judges is key to petitions that challenge making Aadhaar mandatory for millions of Indians over privacy concerns. Senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, arguing for the petitioners, said rights to life and liberty are pre-existing natural rights. Privacy is part of both dignity and liberty, he said, while adding that it is the heart and soul of the Constitution.

The Centre said in court yesterday that the right to privacy is not in the Constitution and is not a part of the right to life. To this, Justice J Chelameswar replied that even the freedom of press isn’t explicit in the Constitution but courts interpreted right to free speech to include freedom of expression of press.

The Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 and 1962 that there is no right to privacy. But benches of two and three judges have consistently taken the position that privacy is indeed a fundamental right since the mid-1970s. If the bench does rule that privacy is a fundamental right, then all cases relating to the Aadhaar scheme will go back to the original bench.