The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on Thursday in Right to Privacy case.
A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by the CJI, which was to deal with pleas challenging the validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the right to privacy attached to it, was faced with the two past verdicts, delivered in 1950 and 1962 by larger benches, holding that the privacy right was not a fundamental right.
The apex court had already said the nine-judge bench would deal with the limited issue of right to privacy and the correctness of the two judgements. The matter challenging the Aadhaar scheme would be then referred back to a smaller bench, it had said.
The Constitution bench, dealing with the contentious issue whether right to privacy was a fundamental right, had rejected plea of a Gujarat government lawyer that misuse of personal information could be dealt with on a "case-to-case basis" and said an all-embracing guideline was needed keeping in mind the size of the population.
Centre’s opinion in SC-
Right to privacy could be a fundamental right, but it could not be absolute, Attorney General K K Venugopal had submitted before a nine-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar.
“There may be a fundamental right to privacy and it has to be a qualified right since it covers diverse aspects and a sub-species of the Right to Liberty. Every aspect or sub- species cannot qualify to be a fundamental right,” he had said.
“Right to privacy can’t be one homogenious right. It’s not absolute and is rather qualified to be elevated to the level of fundamental right. Privacy will be one species which comes under right to liberty,” he had stated.
The Centre’s assertion came when the bench posed a pointed query to the attorney general as to what was the stand of the government on the question whether right to privacy was a fundamental right or not.
The contentious issue as to whether right to privacy was a fundamental right or not was referred to a larger bench in 2015 after the Centre had underlined the issue of two judgements delivered in 1950 and 1962 by the apex court that had held it was not a fundamental right.
Supreme Court’s observation so far-
The Supreme Court today said that there has to be "overarching" guidelines to protect an individuals private information in public domain to ensure that it was used only for an intended purpose.
A nine-judge Constitution bench, dealing with the contentious issue whether right to privacy was a fundamental right, had rejected plea of a Gujarat government lawyer that misuse of personal information could be dealt with on a "case-to-case basis" and said an all-embracing guideline was needed keeping in mind the size of the population.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, also referred to the fact that India was a signatory of a 1948 international convention which recognised privacy as a human right.
Referring to arguments put forward by the Maharashtra government on the issue, the court said, "Even if we accept it that the Constituent Assembly dealt with it (privacy issue) and decided against including it as a fundamental right, then how you will deal with the fact that India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which recognises it."
Supreme Court to pronounce verdict in Right to Privacy case, tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/uZk365OhZp— ANI (@ANI) August 23, 2017
The bench, which also comprised justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer, said that there has to be an "overarching" or all-embracing guideline to ensure that the private information of individuals, put in public domain, was used only for an intended purpose.
"If I give personal information like names, parents name and telephone numbers for a particular purpose, then a reasonable expectation will be that it is used only for that particular purpose... (Otherwise) how we will deal with the violations?" it asked.
Voicing concern over possible misuse of personal information in public domain, the Supreme Court had already stated that protection of the concept of privacy in the technological era was a "losing battle".
A battery of senior lawyers, including Attorney General K K Venugopal, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Arvind Datar, Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subaramaniam, Shayam Divan, Anand Grover, C A Sundaram and Rakesh Dwivedi, advanced arguments in favour and against the inclusion of right to privacy as a fundamental right.
The bench, which favoured "overarching" guidelines to protect private information in public domain, said there was a need to "maintain the core of privacy" as the notion of privacy was fast becoming irrelevant in an all-pervading technological era.
"We are fighting a losing battle of privacy. We do not know for what purpose the information will be used. This is exactly a cause of concern," the bench, which also comprised justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, S K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer, had said.