A nine-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, on Thursday unanimously ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. On August 2, the bench had reserved its verdict after hearing marathon arguments for six days over a period of three weeks, during which submissions were advanced in favour and against the inclusion of the right to privacy as a fundamental right.
Besides CJI Khehar, the other judges of the nine-judge bench are Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agrawal, RF Nariman, AM Sapre, DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer. The contentious issue had emerged when the apex court was dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes. On July 18, the apex court decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether the right to privacy can be declared a fundamental right under the Constitution.
Here are HIGHLIGHTS on RIGHT TO PRIVACY VERDICT:
# Government welcomes judgement. Govt has been of view, particularly with regard to Aadhar that Right To Privacy should be Fundamental Right. On behalf of Government of India, Attorney General also argued that Right To Privacy is a part of Fundamental Rights, with reasonable restrictions: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister
# Government of India was ill-advised to oppose this right to privacy for the reasons that today more than anytime in the past, the individual's privacy need to be protected but no right is absolute. To pass the test of privacy, any law framed must be constitutionally valid. It must be need-based and it must be proportionate to the abridgement sought to the right to privacy consistent with actual need: Sibal
# Apart from this, data relating to the individual also needs protection and it is the legitimate expectation of individuals parting with their data to secure that protection. The state needs to frame data protection law to ensure legitimate expectation of individuals: Sibal
# This failure of the government reflects its narrow-mindedness on issues relating to individual freedom. Individual house, marriages, sexual orientation, right to space, right to move freely, right to eat what an individual likes, right to be left alone are protected both within the home and at public places to the extent necessary: Kapil Sibal of Congress
# SC verdict on right to privacy strikes at "unbridled encroachment and surveillance" by the State and its agencies on the life of the common man. Congress and opposition together spoke for right to privacy against "arrogant" attempts of BJP govt to curtail them: Sonia Gandhi
# We welcome this verdict by Honourable Supreme Court Right To Privacy is a Fundamental Right, says Mamata Banerjee
# Welcome the SC verdict upholding Right To Privacy as an intrinsic part of individual's liberty, freedom & dignity. A victory for every Indian. SC decision marks a major blow to fascist forces. A sound rejection of the BJP's ideology of suppression through surveillance: Rahul Gandhi
# Path breaking and seminal judgement. A great victory for liberty and freedom. The Supreme Court rejects Modi government's attempt to whittle down the right to privacy: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala
# Thank you Supreme Court for this very important judgement, says Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
# This is a setback for the government because it goes against its stand on privacy. If the government asks for Aadhaar for booking railway tickets or if you buy something then such a law would be considered as unreasonable restriction on Right to Privacy. I feel it will be struck down: Prashant Bhushan, lawyer
# Congratulations to all lawyers, activists, others who fought this government's sinister designs to deny Indians their fundamental right to privacy. A far-reaching judgement which will have consequences in various domains, as technology is playing a greater role in our day-to-day lives. This judgement will pave the way for securing our rights: CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury
# The verdict is a warning of institutions of democracy to government of PM Modi. Hope cheer leaders remember the govt aggressively opposed Privacy Right before Court. Shall await ministers congratulating the PM for this, says Salman Khurshid of Congress
# SC upholds the right to privacy. Nothing vague or amorphous about it. People thank the Honourable Judges. These are moments that make India: Kamal Haasan
# SC delivered another historical verdict (after triple talaq) declaring right to privacy as a fundamental right of the citizens: Sanjay Nirupam of Congress
# I am glad as the world moves towards digitization, citizens must have rights against misuse of info, says petitioner R Chandrasekhar
# Privacy is a fundamental right. The freedom that was won in 1947 has been enriched and enlarged. Privacy is the core of personal liberty. Article 21 has acquired a new magnificence: P Chidambaram
11:04am: Nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court overrules verdicts in MP Sharma and Kharak Singh cases
'Right to Privacy intrinsic part of Article 21, part III of Constitution': 10 highlights of SC verdict
10:59am: The ruling by a nine-judge Constitution bench will have a bearing on the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of its violating the right to privacy.
10:54am: The judgement that has been read so far does not say anything on citizen's right to share biometric details for Aadhaar: Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) August 24, 2017
10:52am: Privacy is protected under Article 21, says Supreme Court
10:44am: The nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court rules that privacy is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution
09:30am - The bench is expected to deliver its verdict at around 10.30am in Courtroom No.1, the court of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar.
09:25am - In the apex court upholds Right to Privacy as a fundamental right, the verdict on LGBT rights is likely to being challenged again.
09:20am - The Right to Privacy verdict will also impact the Section 377 verdict which held that the Indian Penal Code discriminated against a particular section of individuals in the society on the basis of sexual orientation. The apex court, however, did not strike down the provision and stated that it was not the role of judiciary to do so and was the job of Parliament.
09:15am - The Right to Privacy verdict today will also have a direct bearing on other landmark cases, including the Aadhaar validity case.
09:00am - During the hearing, the Centre had termed privacy as a "vague and amorphous" right which cannot be granted primacy to deprive poor people of their rights to life, food and shelter.
08:45am - The contentious issue had emerged when the apex court was dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes.
08.30am – On July 18, the apex court had decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether the right to privacy can be declared a fundamental right under the Constitution.
08:00am – A nine-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India J S Khehar , Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agrawal, RF Nariman, AM Sapre, DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer
On July 7, a three-judge bench, while a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes, had said that all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench and the Chief Justice of India would take a call on the need for setting up a constitution bench.
The matter was then mentioned before CJI Khehar who set up a five-judge constitution bench to hear the matter. However, the five-judge constitution bench on July 18 decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether the right to privacy can be declared a fundamental right under the Constitution.
The decision to set up the nine-judge bench was taken to examine the correctness of two apex court judgements delivered in the cases of Kharak Singh and M P Sharma, decided by six and eight judge benches respectively, in which it was held that this right was not a fundamental right.
While the Kharak Singh judgement was delivered in 1962, the M P Sharma verdict was reported in 1954. While reserving the verdict on August 2, the bench had voiced concern over the possible misuse of personal information in the public domain and said that protection of the concept of privacy in the all-pervading technological era was a "losing battle".
During the arguments, the bench had on July 19 observed that the right to privacy cannot be an absolute right and the state may have some power to put reasonable restrictions.
The Attorney General had also contended that right to privacy cannot fall in the bracket of fundamental rights as there were binding decisions of larger benches that it was only a common law right evolved through judicial decisions.
The Centre had termed privacy as a "vague and amorphous" right which cannot be granted primacy to deprive poor people of their rights to life, food and shelter.
The high-profile arguments also saw the apex court asking searching questions about the contours of right to privacy in the digital age when personal information was randomly shared with all types of government and private entities.
The bench had wanted to know about the tests which could be used to regulate and enforce privacy right when there could be "legitimate or illegitimate" use of data.
Meanwhile, the petitioners had contended that the right to privacy was "inalienable" and "inherent" to the most important fundamental right which is the right to liberty.
They had said that right to liberty, which also included right to privacy, was a pre-existing "natural right" which the Constitution acknowledged and guaranteed to the citizens in case of infringement by the state.
The apex court, during the hearing, favoured overarching guidelines to protect private information in public domain and said there was a need to "maintain the core of privacy" as the notion of privacy was fast becoming irrelevant in an all-pervading technological era.