BENGALURU: Having woken up from his afternoon nap, the 92-year-old retired High Court judge K S Puttaswamy appears pleased with the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday. The landmark judgment, he points out, was the result of a legal battle that lasted “30-40 years”. Justice Puttaswamy was the original petitioner in the case. He had filed the writ petition in the case in 2012 and subsequently fought against mandatory Aadhaar enrolment. “We seem to think that privacy is not fundamental for one’s well-being. As a result, we appear to have not enjoyed it till now,” he said.
One of the reasons why such a crucial issue was not discussed in the past was because makers of the Constitution never thought of it as essential. As a result, it was bogged down for years and has been corrected on Thursday, the retired judge said. The significance of the ruling is that the Supreme Court has not gone by the letter of the law. It has allowed interpretation on these complex issues.
Restrictions and law
To a question, he said that privacy should not be absolute. “There should be reasonable restrictions for that too. There is nothing considered as an ‘absolute right’. If absolute rights are granted, we will head towards dictatorship,” he said.
Meanwhile, he urged the Centre to enact a comprehensive law which follows all laws and protocols to protect the right to privacy. Legislation, he pointed out, was not easy to achieve and even with the best of intentions, any Bill regarding the issue would take six to eight months to materialise.
He dismissed the Centre’s response to the SC that people should not complain about privacy, as they anyway share data with Facebook and Google as a crude argument. “I share information with someone does not mean that I will want to share it with everybody,” he said insisting that right to privacy was “not a class right, but an individual right.”
Won’t invalidate Aadhaar
The implementation of Aadhaar project was a major catalyst that started a debate on right to privacy, which wasn’t hitherto considered important. The petition by Justice Puttaswamy, combined with several other petitions in various courts resulted in Thursday’s landmark decision. He said that right to privacy will not invalidate Aadhaar, but will impact Aadhaar Act in the long run. “Both Aadhaar Act and the new ruling have to be compared to analyse the impact,” he added.