Hitting out at the BJP-led government, the Congress on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court judgment declaring right to privacy a fundamental right. While Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the verdict had struck a blow to the “unbridled encroachment and surveillance by the state and its agencies” while vice-president Rahul Gandhi said it was a “sound rejection of the BJP’s ideology of suppression through surveillance”. The CPM, too, welcomed the verdict saying it would “pave the way to protect, in this world of technology advance dominated by corporates, misuse of private data and infringing upon the privacy of individuals”.
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “We welcome this verdict by Honourable Supreme Court #RightToPrivacy is a Fundamental Right.” Former Union minister P Chidambaram said the judgment was a “setback” to the government because its highest law officers had argued that there is no fundamental right to privacy.
On Aadhaar, he said the “fault is not in the Aadhaar concept, the fault is in how this government plans to use or misuse Aadhaar as a tool”. He, however, said there is merit in the argument that the use of Aadhaar should be limited as it was intended to ensure there is no leakage, duplication or falsification in distribution of government benefits. Read | Govt aims to protect Aadhaar, reminds Congress of Emergency
Sonia said, “The Supreme Court judgment on fundamental right to privacy heralds a new era for individual rights, personal liberty and human dignity. It strikes a blow on the unbridled encroachment and surveillance by the state and its agencies in the life of the common man. The Congress and our governments along with other opposition parties stood together, in court and in Parliament, to speak out for the right to privacy and dignity of all Indians against the arrogant attempts of the present government to curtail them.”
Arguing that the judgment was a victory for every Indian, Rahul tweeted: “The Supreme Court decision marks a major blow to fascist forces. A sound rejection of the BJP’s ideology of suppression through surveillance.” Addressing reporters, Chidambaram said the judgment will “rank among the most important judgments delivered by the Supreme Court”. “Today, we can once again celebrate our freedom. Tomorrow, there will be other challenges, other questions, and other attempts to invade the right to privacy. We shall overcome those challenges too,” he said.
Asked whether the Congress now believes Aadhaar was an infringement on right to privacy, he said, “No. The Aadhaar we conceived was perfectly compatible with right to privacy. Aadhaar was conceived as an administrative tool… It is not Aadhaar that is inconsistent with the right to privacy. It is the interpretation of this Government of Article 21 which is an invasion of the right to privacy.”
Calling it a ‘landmark’ decision, former law minister Ashwani Kumar said, “The Supreme Court has vindicated the constitutional conscience and validated yet again its role as a guardian of our constitutional rights.” Asked about the impact on Aadhaar, he told The Indian Express, “The government should comprehensively revisit the technological and legal architecture of Aadhaar in order to bring it in line with the spirit and substance of the Supreme Court judgment.”