NEW DELHI: After the marathon hearings spanning over a fortnight, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on whether the right to privacy should be deemed a fundamental right.
The nine-judge constitution bench was set up on July 18 and heard arguments over three days each week by lawyers for the central government, states and petitioners who contended that the collection of personal details under the Aadhaar infringed on the right to privacy.
The bench, which favoured “overarching” guidelines to protect private information in public domain, 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.
“We are fighting a losing battle of privacy. We do not know for what purpose the information will be used. This is exactly a cause of concern,” the bench. Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who appeared for the Gujarat government, however, said transparency was a key component in the modern age and providing basic personal information could not be covered under right to privacy and referred to illustrations in support of his submission.
Dwivedi said that there was no problem if privacy right was identified as embedded in other fundamental rights and it could not be accorded a separate status of a fundamental right.
The bench said that there was a need to define the term privacy as India has become a “knowledge-based economy” and has nearly 1.4 billion people whose personal information was in public domain.
It said that if it decides in favour of the plea that right to privacy is a fundamental right, then “we will have to say what falls under it”.
The judgement would be delivered on or before August 28 as Chief Justice Khehar, who presided over the bench, would demit the office on that day.