Puttaswamy: Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right under Article 21, Supreme Court

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has unanimously held that the Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The decision in Justice KS Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors  was rendered by a Bench of 9-judges comprising Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justices Jasti Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agarwal, Rohinton Nariman, AM Sapre, DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.

Justice Chandrachud authored a judgment on behalf of himself and Chief Justice JS Khehar, Justice RK Agarwal and Justice Abdul Nazeer. The other five judges rendered separate concurring judgments.

Here is a brief summary of what was held;

  • Decision in MP Sharma overuled.
  • Decision in Kharak Singh, to the extent it says Right to Privacy is not part of Right to Life, is over ruled
  • Right to Privacy is an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty under Article 21.
  • Decisions subsequent to Kharak Singh which held privacy as part of right to life are correct.

A number of writ petitions were tagged along with Justice K Puttaswamy’s petition on Aadhaar, which led to the constitution of this 9 Judge Bench. A slew of Senior Advocates had appeared for various parties in the case.

Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, Arvind Datar, Gopal Subramanium, Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, Soli Sorabjee and Anand Grover had appeared for various individual petitioners arguing in favour of the Right to Privacy.

Besides them, the states of Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry had also argued in favour of Privacy. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal represented Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Puducherry. Senior Advocate JS Attri appeared for Himachal Pradesh, while Senior Advocate PV Surendra Nath represented Kerala.

The central government, along with the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and UIDAI, had opposed the petitioner’s stance that privacy is a fundamental right.

The Centre was represented by Attorney General KK Venugopal. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for UIDAI and Madhya Pradesh.  Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram appeared for Maharashtra, while Gujarat was represented Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi. Advocate Arghya Sengupta represented Haryana.

The case was heard for six days by the Bench before it reserved its judgment.

Read the judgment:

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