The Weekly Obiter

SUPREME COURT ON RIGHT TO PRIVACY: SC: AUGUST 24, 2017

September 22, 2017

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (hereinafter referred to as The Hon’ble SC) in the matter of Justice K S Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. v. Union Of India & Ors. in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012 has held that Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Liberty. A Bench comprising of Nine Judges that dealt with the moot point whether right to privacy can be held as an extension of Right to Life and Personal Liberty and in the light of the same be treated as a Fundamental Right. The Hon’ble SC has held that the Right to Privacy is implicit in the Right to Life and Liberty guaranteed to the citizens of this country as per Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. A citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child-bearing and education among other matters. Therefore, it was opined that nobody can publish anything concerning the above matters without their consent whether truthful or otherwise. In any event, if the same is published without prior approval, it would amount to a violation of Right to Privacy of the person concerned and damages can be claimed. The Hon’ble SC, ruled that privacy was part of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty guaranteed to all citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution. Moreover, this broad ambit of right to privacy means that even the State cannot track the activities of an individual by using the Aadhaar number and there are enough safeguards provided in The Aadhaar Act, 2016 to protect personal information. The broad implication is that the government cannot frame any policy or law that completely takes away the citizen's right to privacy. It can only place reasonable restrictions on limited grounds such as national sovereignty and security, public order, decency, etc, as specified in Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India. 

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