Right to privacy a fundamental right: SC
The Supreme Court on Thursday held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution and is an integral part of the right to life and liberty.
The ruling by a nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar ruled that ‘"right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 and entire Part III of the Constitution".
Others members of the bench comprising 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 also concurred with the view.
The ruling will have a bearing on the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of its violating the right to privacy. The government's Aadhaar scheme makes compulsory linking of the unique biometric identity with bank accounts, income tax returns and for availing government benefits.
The petitions challenging Aadhaar will now be referred to a separate five-judge bench.
Meanwhile, reactions have started coming in.
"This is a setback for the government" because it goes against its stand on privacy, said noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan who is party to the case told reporters.
Asked if the ruling will have implications on Aadhaar, Bhushan said: "This judgement does not say anything about that."
He said it appeared that any law which restricts fundamental right will have to be examined on the touchstone of Article 21.
"If the government asks for Aadhaar for booking railway tickets or if you buy something then such a law would be considered as an unreasonable restriction on Right to Privacy. I feel it will be struck down," Bhushan said.
The Congress meanwhile hailed the Supreme Court's judgement declaring the Right to Privacy a fundamental right and said that it rejected the Narendra Modi-led government's attempt to whittle it down.
"Path-breaking and seminal judgement. A great victory for liberty and freedom. The Supreme Court rejects Modi government's attempt to whittle down the right to privacy," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the Supreme Court verdict. "Thank you Supreme Court for this very important judgement," the Chief Minister tweeted, minutes after the landmark decision by the apex court.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the Supreme Court's ruling that the right to privacy is a fundamental right will have far-reaching consequences in various domains.
"Congratulations to all lawyers, activists, others who fought this government's sinister designs to deny Indians their fundamental right to privacy," Yechury tweeted.
"A far-reaching judgement which will have consequences in various domains, as technology is playing a greater role in our day-to-day lives."
He also said that the Communist Party of India-Marxist has opposed to a mandatory Aadhaar and data misuse by foreign technology firms.
"This judgement will pave the way for securing our rights," he added.