The Supreme Court’s Constitution bench said it would continue to hear arguments in the Aadhaar case on Thursday, ANI reported after the apex court began hearing the matter on Wednesday. As a number of petitions have claimed that it violates the right to privacy, a nine-judge Constitution bench will decide whether it is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
Counsel for the petitioners, Gopal Subramanian, said that the right to privacy cannot be separated from the right to liberty enshrined in the Constitution’s Article 21. “If liberty is a fundamental value of our Constitution, then privacy is part of liberty,” he argued before the court.
Quoting Justice Subba Rao in the Kharak Singh vs the state of Uttar Pradesh case from 1964, Subramanian called privacy a facet of liberty. He argued that all the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution – right to free speech, freedom of conscience and religion – include the right to privacy, as well.
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‘The state must protect citizens’ right to privacy’
The counsel further argued that the ideas expressed in the Preamble – liberty, dignity, democracy and freedom of thought – also imply the existence of the right to privacy. He said that actions that have an impact on liberty can also affect an individual’s privacy.
Subramanian said the state was obligated to protect citizens’ right to privacy like their other fundamental rights.
Senior jurist Soli Sorabjee, also appearing for the petitioners, gave the example of freedom of the press to deduce the basis for the right to privacy. He said that though Article 19(1) does not guarantee freedom of the press, it can be deduced from the right to freedom of speech, which courts had done in the past.
‘Forcing people to give up personal data a breach of right to privacy’
Moreover, senior advocate Shyam Divan, who is also representing the petitioners, argued that “an unbroken line of decisions” by courts since 1975 had upheld the right to privacy. He said forcing an individual to give up personal information constituted a violation of this right.
Divan said that over the years, the Supreme Court had articulated 30 unenumerated rights – legal rights that are inferred from other legal rights but are not mentioned in a law – under the Constitution, and therefore, privacy must also be a right.
“We are not asking you to import the American Fourth Amendment,” he said. “Our case is based on articles 14, 19 and 21.”