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Privacy will remain fundamental right regardless of governments: Justice Nariman

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-08-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Right to privacy would remain an inalienable fundamental right despite the “shifting sands” of governments in power, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Justice R.F. Nariman, who wrote a separate but concurring judgement declaring the right to privacy a fundamental right, rejected the government’s argument that since several statutes are already there to protect the privacy of individuals, it is unnecessary to read a fundamental right of privacy into Part III of the Constitution.

The judge said a law can be made or unmade by a simple parliamentary majority and the ruling party can do away with any of the protections given the statutes. But, fundamental rights are contained in the Constitution so that there would be rights that the citizens of this country may enjoy despite the governments elected by them.

“This is all the more so when a particular fundamental right like privacy of the individual is an inalienable right which inheres in the individual because he is a human being... The recognition of such right in the fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution is only a recognition that such right exists notwithstanding the shifting sands of majority governments,” he said in his 122-page separate judgement, which formed part of the total 547-page verdict of the nine-judge constitution bench.

The judge further said statutes may protect fundamental rights and they may also infringe upon them, and if any statue is an infringement of the inalienable right to privacy, the apex court would then be required to test such statute against such fundamental right.

“If it is found that there is an infringement of such right, without any countervailing societal or public interest, it would be the duty of this court to declare such legislation to be void as offending the fundamental right to privacy. This argument (of the centre), therefore, also merits rejection,” he said.

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