NEW DELHI: All eyes will be on the Supreme Court Thursday when its nine-judge Constitution bench is likely to deliver its verdict on whether the right to privacy of citizens is a fundamental right under the Constitution.
The matter was heard by a nine-judge bench, including CJI J S Khehar, justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agarwal, Rohinton Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, S K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.
The court had reserved its judgment on August 2 after hearing the matter for six days over a period of three weeks.
Thursday’s verdict will only define the nature and extent of the Right to Privacy of an individual. However, it will have far-reaching consequences on the government’s Aadhaar scheme. A bunch of petitions were filed in the apex court in 2015 challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing of the benefits of various social welfare schemes.
The judgment will have a direct implication on the case relating to the validity of Aadhaar which is likely to be heard by another Constitution bench. During the marathon hearings, the bench had questioned the government on whether it has plans for setting up a robust data protection mechanism especially in the digital age.
The government has, however, contended before the bench that citizens have a right to privacy but it is not an absolute right. The attorney general had stated the right to privacy can’t fall in the bracket of fundamental rights as there were binding decisions of larger benches that it was only a common law right evolved through judicial decisions. The ruling is significant as privacy enjoys a robust legal framework internationally but in India, the law is still silent on it.
The Centre had termed privacy as a “vague and amorphous” right which cannot be granted primacy to deprive poor people of their rights to life, food and shelter. The apex court, during the hearing, favoured overarching guidelines to protect private information in public domain and 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.