NEW DELHI: THE Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court since privacy was multifaceted, it could not be treated as a fundamental right.
Attorney General K K Venugopal resumed his arguments before a nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, stressing that it was not a fundamental right.
“There is no fundamental right to privacy and even if it is assumed as a fundamental right, it is multifaceted. Every facet can’t be ipso facto considered a fundamental right,” Venugopal told the bench, which also comprised Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.
The AG said, “There is no informational privacy against State interests and public utility for which the State can ask for fingerprints. Privacy is one among the umbrella of rights under personal liberty of Article 21. Some facets of privacy may be fundamental right but informational privacy is not a Constitutional guarantee.”
On this, Justice Chandrachud observed, “In this day and age when more and more data is in the public domain, the importance of information privacy protection is paramount.”
Citing the example of census and passport, AG said, “The data taken during census, passport registration, voter ID card is already with the government so there is nothing new that the government is seeking from the citizens now.”
Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, who appeared for the state of Maharashtra said, “Privacy per se is not fundamental right. If there are facets covered by existing enumerated rights, it’s a different issue but privacy per se cannot be protected fundamental right. Doing so would be injecting a new fundamental right which can be only done by constitutional amendment.”
The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on August 1.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, while representing four non-BJP ruled states -- Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Puducherry—had on Wednesday argued that these states supported the contention that the right to privacy be held as fundamental in the age of technological advancements.
Giving the example of the Global Positioning System (GPS), Sibal had said the movement of person could be tracked and misused by the State as well as by non-State actors. The apex court had on July 18 set up the Constitution bench after the matter was referred to a larger bench.