A Constitution bench of nine judges ruled today that the right to privacy is “intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty” and that it is essentially protected by the several fundamental freedoms that fall under Part III of the Indian Constitution.
This ruling of the Supreme Court comes as a welcoming change especially after a eight-judge bench and a six-judge bench had concluded that privacy is not protected by the Constitution in 1954 and 1961 respectively. Both the benches had concluded their stand by saying that privacy was neither a fundamental right nor a guaranteed one.
The Union Government argues that privacy is a common law right. However, today’s ruling does not comment on whether the Aadhar card infringes the privacy of a citizen.
The Aadhar card requires citizens to allow the government to store their personal details with their finger prints and iris scans linked with the same. But since all fundamental rights come with restrictions, one has to wait to see if the Aadhar card can be seen as a reasonable restriction.
The nine-judge Bench that was unanimous in their finding included Chief Justice Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice R.K. Agrawal, Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.