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The arguments in the Right to Privacy matter continued for the fifth day today. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), informed the 9-judge Bench that the Centre has constituted a 10-member Committee to suggest a Draft Data Protection Bill.
The Committee will be chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice BN Srikrishna. Arghya Sengupta, founder of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy will also be part of the Committee. Also part of the Committee are UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey and Department of Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is required to submit all necessary information to the Committee within 8 weeks, so that they may begin their deliberations.
Taking up from where Attorney General KK Venugopal left off, Mehta argued that it is improper to say that the Right to Privacy does not exist in this era. He went on to submit that the same is protected in various statutes enacted by Parliament. Further, he submitted that the right must not be placed in Part III of the Constitution as a fundamental right.
The Bench replied that a problem arises when the Legislature denies the protection without giving justified reasons.
In response, Mehta read out section 8 (j) of the Right to Information Act pointing out to the Bench that this section provides for protection of privacy. Then, the Bench proceeded to pose an array of questions, one of which was,
“What if the section is to be challenged and there is no Fundamental Right . Then how do we challenge it?”
Mehta told the Bench that it can be challenged under Article 14, to which the Bench remarked that it implies that privacy is contained in Article 14 itself.
Post lunch, the Bench continued to grill Mehta with series of questions. At one point, the Bench noted,
“We may recognize that it is a fundamental right and then balance it with the Act. None of the petitioners have contended privacy as absolute right.”
The submissions for the day were concluded by Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who was appearing for state of Gujarat. He submitted that Right to Choice should not be included in the Right to Privacy, as it is already a right in Article 21 itself.
The Bench has requested the counsel to conclude their arguments tomorrow.
Read the MEITY notification on the formation of the Committee:
Read the ASG Tushar Mehta’s submissions:
Image taken from here