The Centre today told the Supreme Court that the right to privacy may be considered as a fundamental right but all aspects of privacy cannot be put under the fundamental rights category.
“There is a fundamental right to privacy, but it is a wholly qualified right since the right to privacy consists of various aspects and is a sub-species of the right to liberty, every aspect of it will not qualify as a fundamental right,” Attorney General KK Venugopal told a nine-judge constitution bench headed by CJI JS Khehar.
Venugopal said this as arguments commenced on Wednesday in the course of the hearing by the nine-judge bench on the question whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.
Earlier in the day, three non-BJP ruled states – Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Union Territory Puducherry moved the Supreme Court seeking to intervene in the ongoing hearing on the issue of whether the right to privacy can be declared as one of the Fundamental Rights under the Constitution. All four states took a stand opposite to the Central government which had said that right to privacy is a common law right and not a fundamental right.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the four states, said that in the light of technological advancement, the court is needed to take a fresh look on the right to privacy and its contours in the modern day. “Privacy cannot be an absolute right. But it is a Fundamental Right. This court needs to strike a balance," he submitted before the bench also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, DY Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.
The apex court had on July 18 set up the Constitution bench after the matter was referred to a larger bench by a five-judge bench. The petitioners had claimed that collection and sharing of biometric information, as required under the Aadhaar scheme, was a breach of the fundamental right to privacy.