Right to Privacy verdict opens a whole new can of questions

Gay rights, marital rape, data protection, abortion, euthanasia and proposed DNA-based Technology Bill
are just a few of the issues likely to face legal challenges now

Published: 25th August 2017 08:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2017 08:38 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s judgment on Thursday that right to privacy is one of the most ingrained rights of every citizen is likely to have huge implications on several other cases which are pending for adjudication which includes government’s much hyped Aadhaar enrollment exercise which is facing legal challenge on its validity, which will now be heard by another five judge constitution bench at later stages.

The judgement said, “Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation.” Though this judgment echoed the rights of citizens but has also reopened a debate on many issues that have been decided in the past.

For example, in the case of rights of the LGBT community, the nine-judge bench said that the case was wrongly decided on the touchstone of privacy and observed, “Sexual orientation of an individual is a matter of privacy.” Similarly, the cases of abortion and willful termination of one’s life will also see new deliberations. On euthanasia, Justice Chelameshwar said, “An individual’s rights to refuse life prolonging medical treatment or terminate his life is another freedom which fall within the zone of the right of privacy.”

While talking about abortion, Justice Chelameshwar said, “A woman’s freedom of choice whether to bear a child or abort her pregnancy are areas which fall in the realm of privacy.”
The judgment can also have an effect on the legality of marital rape as the recognition of the right to privacy should supplement the arguments for a woman’s right to bodily integrity.

Another important aspect of privacy is data protection and now that privacy is a fundamental right, new legislation will have to come in to regulate entities who collect data.
However, government has already appointed an expert group headed by former SC judge B N Srikrishna to draft a data protection law. Likewise, government’s DNA profiling bill will also get a setback by which government can set up a DNA databank and use data for forensic purposes.

Total impact
Aadhaar enrollment: Government’s decision to introduce the biometric data-enabled Aadhaar ID for citizens
Section 377: Homosexuality, oral sex is a criminal offence
Data protection: Facebook’s access to details of Indian WhatsApp users as a violation or privacy
DNA profiling Bill: The Bill will allow government to set up a DNA databank and use data for forensic purposes
Section 66A of IT act State can take action against an individual for sharing his thoughts on a social platform
Use of two finger test in rape cases: This test is being used on victims of rape or assaults

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