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What is Right to Privacy and the latest Supreme Court Decision on it?

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SC Declares Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right – Aadhaar System in Question

The Supreme Court has issued a verdict that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right. The reason being that the Right to Privacy is an underlying element in the Right to Life. After heated arguments on the matter that began in the SC on July 19th, the nine-judge bench passed the judgment closing the debate this morning.

“Right to Privacy is an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty guaranteed in the Article 21 of the Constitution”, said the SC.

What Caused This Issue To Stem Up?

The Aadhaar project aims to build a database of personal identity and biometric information covering every Indian. This includes iris scan and fingerprints. With the Aadhaar card becoming mandatory proof of identity, petitioner’s argued about this declaration would violate the Right to Privacy.

The list of petitioners includes the first Chairperson of the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights, former Karnataka High Court Judge KS Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon in addition to many others.

This lead to the Supreme Court to conduct a debate that would be settled in the presence of a nine-judge bench.

Who’s On The Nine-Judge Bench?

The nine-judge bench is headed by Chief Justice JS Khekar. The other members of the bench being Justice SA Bobde, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice RK Agarwal, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice S Abdul Nazeer.

Aadhaar And The Right To Privacy

The Aadhar system was originally proposed to be a voluntary program that provided every Indian with a proof of identity. However, earlier this year the government made the Aadhaar a mandatory document for all services including tax returns, opening a bank account, securing loans, and social security benefits like pensions and cash transfers for those entitled to welfare schemes. Critics argue that the Aadhaar card links enough data to create a comprehensive profile of a person as it has access to one’s spending habits, the property they own, and other information.

Despite the UIDAI (the agency that governs Aadhaar) repeatedly stating that its data is secure, there have been instances that prove otherwise. The number of recurring reports that state that Aadhaar details have been accidentally released includes government websites as well. This spreads fear that the data collected could be misused by a government that argues that Indians do not have a right to privacy.

Does The Verdict Affect The Aadhaar System?

Whether or not the verdict affects the Aadhaar scheme is a matter that is yet to be decided by the SC. The constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act is now to be examined by a five-judge bench and it will be tested on the touchstone of the Right to Privacy.

Do you think that the Aadhaar system will be abolished after the next verdict? We at don’t think so! Since the Aadhaar law is a beneficial legislation, a blanket ban on this system would do injustice in many ways. Stay tuned to this page to know how this verdict will affect the Aadhaar system and the impact of the five-judge bench verdict could cause on the Aadhaar Act.

24 Aug, 17

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