Nine justices unanimously joined the decision that was an exhaustive treatise on personal liberties. The other judgments also affirmed that privacy is a “core freedom” while leaving the scope and changing nature of privacy restrictions for case-by-case appraisal.
A day after the Supreme Court declared Right to Privacy a fundamental right under the Constitution, the apex court today said the judgment will have “some bearing” in matters related to the possession of beef in Maharashtra.
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Since the right to privacy was previously not a fundamental right, there was no established standard against which its violation could be tested and proved in a court of law.
“It is a big jolt for the government because they argued that privacy is not a fundamental right”, he told reporters outside the court. It was argued that around 100 crore people had already been issued Aadhaar cards and by this method lakhs of fake ration card holders had been eliminated and over ‘15,000 crores saved in this process.
There are more than 1.17 billion Aadhaar holders in the country. One of these two judgements was heard in 1954 by an eight-judge bench of the apex court in the MP Sharma Vs Satish Chandra case.
The Court reserved judgment on the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme for another bench.
“It is a historic and watershed moment in the fight for the deprived sections”, said Reetika Khera, development economist at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and anti-Aadhaar activist. Critics of the scheme – which has been hit by several data breaches – say it gives the state unacceptable powers of surveillance, with the nature of the data recorded making it easy to create a comprehensive profile of a person’s spending habits.
“I am sure the Aadhaar act has fair, just and reasonable restrictions that further the objective of social welfare”, he said. “It will be very hard to continue on the earlier judgment on 377 now”, she said. But the top court said the right to privacy was enshrined in the constitution, a ruling that civil liberties campaigners hailed as a milestone. “One’s sexual orientation is undoubtedly an attribute of privacy”, he said. Thankfully, though, this case is also up for a hearing shortly in the Indian Supreme Court.
It added that the right to privacy is intrinsic to the entire fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution. “The goal of elevating certain rights to the stature of guaranteed fundamental rights is to insulate their exercise from the disdain of majorities, whether legislative or popular”, Justice Charachud said in his judgment.
The apex court first chose to set up a constitution bench to hear the privacy case in August 2015.