Privacy law was needed much before Aadhaar came around: Jay Panda

Supreme Court

It stated: "The recognition of privacy as a fundamental constitutional value is part of India's commitment to a global human rights regime".

Privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Indian constitution, and the government has argued that the country's 1.25 billion citizens can not expect an absolute right to it.

Such cross wires of arguments presented many difficulties to the bench in determining the constitutional status of privacy, but the nine-judge bench eventually came out with the verdict in favor of the petitioners today morning. "Supreme Court rejects Modi government's attempt to whittle down the right to privacy", the Congress Party's chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Indian citizen has a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian constitution, which should be respected and preserved, effectively derailing an unfinished biometric identification programme that the government is pushing. "Privacy should be a fundamental right subject to reasonable restrictions", the law minister said at a press conference.

"The right to privacy as already observed is not absolute", the court said. The majority of five Judges in the nine-Judge Bench said that the SC's decision to criminalise gay sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) requires to be reconsidered as these are "intrinsic" to the LGBT community's dignity and privacy. Among other objections, the petitioners have argued that the Aadhaar project entails a massive violation of the right to privacy for the Indian population.

It was in this background that the nine-judge Constitution bench heard the matter to examine the correctness or otherwise of the 1954 and 1962 judgments and the nature of the right to privacy - whether it is fundamental or not.

For the challenge to section 377: A larger bench is to hear a petition challenging the 2013 judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld section 377 of the IPC.

The Supreme Court, earlier on August 2, had reserved its judgement over the issue of whether right to privacy is fundamental or not. "Liberty is fundamental to democracy and citizens can not exist without privacy".

On Aadhaar, the government would now have to defend itself in the supreme court where it has submitted that it is essential to collect biometric details of the citizens.

The former attorney general said the judgment was very progressive and it protected people's fundamental rights.

However, the court has not ruled on the validity of sharing information under Aadhaar today.

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