(Thinkstock Images) 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.
The ruling by a rare nine-judge bench came after a referral from a smaller panel hearing a challenge to India's biometric identification programme Aadhaar, which has signed up more than one billion Indians.
The SC bench's judgment will touch the lives of 134 crore Indians.
■ The inalienable fundamental right to privacy resides in Article 21 and other fundamental freedoms contained in Part III of the Constitution of India.
The Centre had contended that though after the mid-seventies, several judgments by Benches with a strength of two or three judges had held that right to privacy was fundamental, it was the judgments of 1954 and 1962 by the larger benches that held ground. Explaining why it is necessary to enshrine right to privacy as a fundamental right as opposed to a statutory right, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said, "Statutory law can be made and also unmade by a simple Parliamentary majority".
This judgement has implications for several other issues, including sexual rights and freedoms for LGBTI people. The limitations which operate on the right to life and personal liberty would operate on the right to privacy. Talking to reporters here, Mr Chidambaram said,"the Aadhaar we conceived was perfectly compatible with the Right To 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".
While tracing the right to privacy the bench also touched upon "food preferences" of individuals and animal slaughter.
"It is a significant judgement because it upholds the right of a citizen of being the master of his own body and mind, and no one can compel him to part with his biometric information for the objective of opening a bank account or for obtaining a telephone connection", Tulsi said. Privacy has varied connotations when examined from different aspects of liberties.
Welcoming the decision, BJP spokesperson and senior advocate Aman Sinha, termed it a "good verdict" but with reasonable restrictions.