Supreme Court slams Govt: No right to liberty if no privacy

The bench was responding to a submission by AG Mukul Rohatgi, who said Constitution does not state that right to privacy is a fundamental right, and the issue needs to be considered by a Constitution Bench.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: August 6, 2015 7:12 am
Supreme Court, right to privacy, fundamental rights, fundamental right to privacy, Aadhaar card, Aadhaar biometric information, Aadhar card information, AG Mukul Rohatgi, Supreme Court, SC, india news, nation news Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the government’s stand that right to privacy is not a fundamental right. “If a man is not safe in his own house, then what remains in Article 21 (right to life and liberty)? Where is the liberty then? If privacy is not there in liberty, then what else can be there? To say that it (right to privacy) is not at all there will not be right. We will not accept it,” said a three-judge bench led by Justice J

The bench was responding to a submission by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who said the Constitution does not state that right to privacy is a fundamental right, and the issue needs to be considered by a Constitution Bench.

According to Rohatgi, though there is right to privacy, its position remains unclear. “No judgment explicitly cites right to privacy as a fundamental right. It is not there under the letters of Article 21 either. If this court feels that there must be clarity on this subject, only a Constitution Bench can decide,” he said.

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The government’s arguments came in defence of the Aadhaar card. A batch of petitions have claimed that collection and sharing of biometric information, as required for the Aadhaar card, is a breach of the “fundamental” right to privacy.

Whether privacy is a fundamental right or not must first be settled authoritatively, said Rohatgi, as he supported the collection of biometric data. Pointing out that interception of phone calls is legally permissible under certain circumstances, he said there is nothing wrong in collecting biometric data if there is a legal regime to justify it.

Rohatgi said the two Constitution Bench judgments, in 1954 and 1963, which held that right to privacy is not a fundamental right, has not been overruled by any subsequent judgment by a larger bench.

He sought reconsideration of all Supreme Court judgments in the last two decades which defined right to privacy as a fundamental right. As per these judgments, right to privacy was read as a fundamental right relating to life and liberty (Article 21) or the right to free speech, movement and peaceful association (Article 19).

Rohatgi said the smaller benches of two or three judges could not decide the matter, and the issue should be sent to a nine-judge bench for clarity. The arguments will resume on Thursday.

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  1. C
    Aug 6, 2015 at 9:48 pm
    In India, everything is a crime owing to the herd mentality. The education system does not let people think differently.... Having a palatial house is a crime. Having a transaction more than Rs 20000 is a crime..... Stereotype Indians would think that the next person is a tax-evader/criminal, whether he has paid all the taxes or not, law-obedient or not... Rather they should think that why tax/law is imposed to begin with. The Right to Privacy should be strictly enforced or the government should be ready to give details of each plan, each transaction and each result/failure. Each person should question the government on why they need one more paisa from citizens.
    1. A
      Arun Kumar
      Aug 6, 2015 at 9:38 am
      A misleading headline to the article. The AG has pointed out that there needs to be clarity on the issue and that needs to be done by a consutional bench. That is all.
      1. D
        Aug 6, 2015 at 9:02 am
        Only fools will state as you did,considering corruption here is so rampant.We are not a police state just so you know.
        1. K
          kulaputra kulaputra
          Aug 6, 2015 at 9:30 am
          The right to privacy is fundamental. If I want to dance naked in my house, I should be free to do so from Government interference. As long as there is no reasonable doubt that I am committing a crime, courts should ensure my privacy. This argument that why you need privacy if you are not doing something wrong is plain stupid. do you have doors to your house - why ? the same logic will apply ?
          1. K
            K N
            Aug 6, 2015 at 9:24 am
            We want subsidy as well as so called privacy and security .This is untenable .State has a right to uniquely identify beneficiaries of government schemes to control all pervading corruption .
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