Right to Privacy
Centre’s move to make Aadhar card mandatory for availing government schemes. It was
contended that it would breach privacy of individual.
In K.S.Puttaswamy v. Union of India, Supreme Court held that right to privacy is protected
under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Before this Judgement:
In M.P Sharma vs Satish Chandra (1954) and Kharak Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh (1962)
Supreme Court held that privacy is not a fundamental right which after this judgement stands
What is Right to Privacy
Right to Privacy refers to respecting and ensuring the privacy of the individual. It restrains
government and private actions that threaten the privacy of individuals. Why Right to Privacy
Privacy is the basis of the freedom to dissent. With unfettered surveillance, every time you
disagree with the state, they can take advantage of the huge imbalance of information
between them and you. The details of your phone calls, movements, purchases, demographics
and social interactions can be used against you by the government.
What was Government’s view of Right to Privacy?
Government told the SC that right to privacy is a fundamental right, but it is a “wholly
qualified right” i.e. ‘right to privacy’ could be subject to reasonable restrictions.
Arguments for Right to Privacy
This will ensure the dignity of the individual as mentioned in our Preamble.
It will impose restrictions on the government when it tries to encroach our privacy.
It will also give impetus to the Right to personal liberty, under Article 21 of the
It can hinder the implementation and performance of welfare schemes -like Aadhar
and Direct Benefits Transfer-which requires personal data of citizens.
Right to Privacy will also restrict police and intelligence agencies to collect private
information about accused, dead persons etc. as mentioned in DNA Profiling bill.
Implication of the Judgement
The judgment reconciles Indian laws with the spirit of Article 12 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and Article 17 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, which legally protects persons against the
arbitrary interference with one’s privacy, honour and reputation, family, home and
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has been repealed after this judgement.
Aadhaar would also have restrictions and limitations that privacy would be subject to.
Data Privacy and Protection Bill 2017 has been introduced in Lok Sabha.
“We need a larger privacy bill, not just for Aadhaar but also for many other things
like privacy in telephone tapping and in other online systems” Nandan Nilkeni.
No law has been passed till now and the term “privacy” has also not been defined.
Huge multinationals are taking data about millions of Indians abroad.
Privacy consciousness is low in India as compared to western countries.
Indian institutions like joint family, temple festivals, marriage celebrations and
community life do not encourage privacy.