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Centre to SC: Right to privacy can’t transcend right to life and personal liberty

LiveMint logoLiveMint 26-07-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday pressed against elevating the right to privacy as a fundamental right and told the court that it could at best be seen as a sub-species of the right to life.

Holding that the right could not be homogenous in nature and transcend the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said, “The right to privacy is not an absolute right, it could be traced to the right of life and would have to be scrutinized under that provision of law.”

He added that if the right was to be elevated to a fundamental right, its sub-species would also have to be granted the same status which was not permissible under law.

Comparing it to the right to life and its sub-species like the right to food, shelter, health, education and employment, it was submitted that each sub-species could not be accorded as a fundamental right.

This was the deliberate intention of the law makers, he added.

Venugopal also cited the various benefits that were offered to over 200 million people under the Aadhaar scheme.

Earlier in the day, four states and one Union territory—Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, Puducherry and Himachal Pradesh—backed the constitutionality of the right to privacy.

Also Read: Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Puducherry back right to privacy

Kapil Sibal, counsel for the states, told the court that with the advent of technology, which is pervasive in nature, the state had become powerful enough to be invasive in a citizen’s life.

“The right to privacy cannot be absolute but the court needs to strike a balance between the rights of the state and citizens on one hand and rights of citizens and non-state actors on the other,” Sibal added.

Chief Justice J.S. Khehar said that at this juncture, the court was limiting itself to the constitutionality of the right and did not wish to digress from that question.

A nine-judge constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice was set up on 18 July to rule on the question of whether right to privacy constituted a fundamental right.

Arguments in the matter will continue after lunch.

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