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Right to Privacy: Reactions to Supreme Court’s landmark judgment

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-08-2017 Livemint

New Delhi: The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, a landmark decision that could affect the Narendra Modi government’s unique identification programme with biometric data.

Privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Indian constitution and the government has argued that the country’s 1.25 billion people have no absolute right to it, the apex court said the right to privacy was enshrined in the constitution.

“The right of privacy is a fundamental right,” the nine judges deciding the case said in a unanimous ruling. “It is a right which protects the inner sphere of the individual from interference from both State and non-State actors and allows the individuals to make autonomous life choices.”

Reactions from political parties and activists are coming in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. Here are some of those reactions:

■ Prashant Bhushan: “It is a big jolt for the government because they argued that privacy is not a fundamental right. Any fundamental right is subject to reasonable restrictions by law. Whether the Aadhar Act imposes unreasonable restrictions will have to be examined,” he told reporters outside the court. Bhushan is one of the lawyers working on the Aadhaar challenge, said the ruling was a blow to the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (AFP)

■ Rahul Gandhi: “Welcome the SC verdict upholding Right to Privacy as an intrinsic part of individual’s liberty, freedom and dignity. The SC decision marks a major blow to fascist forces,” the Congress vice-president tweeted. It was a “sound rejection” of the BJP’s ideology of “suppression through surveillance”, Gandhi said. (PTI)

■ Mamata Banerjee: “We welcome this verdict by Honourable Supreme Court #RightToPrivacy is a Fundamental Right,” West Bengal CM said in a tweet. (PTI)

■ P. Chidambaram: “The judgement delivered today is a landmark verdict and will rank among the most important judgements delivered by the Supreme Court since the advent of the Constitution of India,” the senior Congress said. (PTI)

■ CPI (M): “The Politburo welcomes the Supreme Court verdict...this landmark judgment should pave the way to protect, in this world of technology advance dominated by corporates, misuse of private data and infringing upon the privacy of individuals,” the Left party said in a statement. (PTI)

■ Soli Sorabjee: “It is a very progressive judgment and protects the fundamental rights of the people. Privacy is a basic right which is inherent in every individual. The unanimity of the bench in giving this decision shows a very good approach of the Supreme Court. Any judgment which enlarges the fundamental rights of the people should be welcome.”

On being asked about its impact on Aadhaar, Sorabjee said the reasoning of the apex court needs to be examined and one cannot say that Aadhaar will now be banned. “You cannot make a blanket and categorical statement that Aaadhaar will be banned or is unconstitutional. No fundamental right is absolute. It is always subject to reasonable restrictions,” Sorabjee said. (PTI)

■ Indira Jaising: “It is a day to celebrate. Privacy is fundamental. It certainly has an impact on the day-to-day life. This verdict prevents any kind of snooping,” the senior advocate said. (PTI)

■ Mishi Choudhary: “If I can stop smiling, then I’ll be able to comment. The world’s largest democracy has spoken. People who said that this (Aadhaar) is the creation of a surveillance state, they are not engaging in hyperbole,” she said. Choudhary is legal director at the Software Freedom Law Center in New York. (AFP)

■ Kamal Hassan: “People thank the Honourable Judges. These are moments that make India,” the actor said in a tweet. (PTI)

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