On Thursday, in a big news, the Supreme Court ruled that the ‘right to privacy’ was a fundamental right that is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution as the latter upholds the right to life. As per reports, the nine-judge Constitution bench held that the right to privacy is an “intrinsic part of life and personal liberty” in a unanimous decision.
The nine-judge bench comprised of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud, J Chelameswar, Rohinton Nariman, RK Agrawal, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, SA Bobde, S Abdul Nazeer and AM Sapre. There were six separate but concurring rulings and the top court had reserved its verdict in the case on August 3. The argument put forward by the petitioners is that the Indian Constitution guarantees an individual’s right to privacy under Article 21 on the right to life and Article 19 on the protection of certain basic rights.
The petition was charged following the declaration of the Centre that the citizens do not have an absolute right over their bodies. Moreover, various laws and rules have already been imposed limitations on this right and the mandatorising of the Adhaar is a step towards the same direction as it even collects the biometric data of the citizens. Although, The Unique Identity Development Authority of India, which manages the biometrics for Aadhaar cards, had told the top court that it was “technically impossible” to use the data to spy on people who have enrolled in the unique identification programme but with the lack of assurance of IT experts and safety concerns expressed by various pressure groups, the ruling came as no surprise.
The Supreme Court’s verdict is likely to determine whether Aadhaar can be made compulsory for access to government schemes. The question of whether Aadhaar violates this fundamental right is now likely to be taken up by a five-judge Constitution bench. Nonetheless, it’s a big win for the citizens of India.