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SC to continue hearing on Aadhaar's breach of privacy matter

20 Juillet 2017

On July 12, the Supreme Court agreed to hear on an urgent basis, all the issues arising out of Aadhar card, especially the concern over whether it breaches the people's right to privacy.

Right to privacy is not absolute and can not prevent the state from making laws imposing reasonable restrictions on citizens, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday. Justice Chandrachud asked the petitioners, who have challenged the Aadhaar law on the ground that it affects the privacy of citizens.

The petition for the right to privacy was heard by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul, J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, AM Sapre, RF Nariman, S Abdul Nazeer and RK Agarwal.

Subramanium said that "The right to privacy is recognised as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution".

Subsequently, smaller benches had held contrary view and, hence this matter needed to be decided by a larger bench, the attorney general had said. Right to privacy can not be so absolute and overarching that the state is prohibited from legislating restrictions on it.

An exhaustive cataloguing by the court of what all constitutes privacy may limit the right itself, Justice Chandrachud observed.

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Citizens don't surrender their privacy when they put themselves in public dominion as part of technology in digital age, Justice Chandrachud said, pointing out that there was no social media in 1954 and 1962 when the top court had said that right to privacy was not a fundamental right. Senior advocate Shyam Divan, for the petitioners, along with advocates Vipin Nair and P.B. Suresh, submitted that a person should have the right to "informational self-determination".

Justice Chandrachud said that "My right to cohabit with my wife or sexual orientation is a right to privacy, but your right to decide to which school your child will go is a matter of choice". He told the Rajya Sabha that "the bill (Aadhaar) pre-supposes and based on a premise that it is too late in the day to contend that privacy is not a fundamental right".

However, the Finance Minister had also said, "The underlying point is that privacy is not an absolute right ... that it can be restricted by procedure established by law, now that procedure established by law, ..., has to be fair, just and reasonable".

"How do we define privacy?"

Right to privacy can be deduced from other fundamental rights as was done by the SC while terming freedom of press as part and parcel of right to freedom of speech and expression despite freedom of press not finding mention in the Constitution.

He urged the bench to reaffirm this right.

SC to continue hearing on Aadhaar's breach of privacy matter