Interview | National

Citizens of India today have right to privacy, says former Justice Puttaswamy

Former Judge K.S. Puttaswamy. File photo

Former Judge K.S. Puttaswamy. File photo   | Photo Credit: G.P. Sampath Kumar

The original petitioner in the right to privacy case is a happy man after Thursday’s verdict from the Supreme Court. In 2012, Justice (retd) K.S. Puttaswamy had approached the apex court as petitioner in a case which has seen several landmark judgments. While the Court will still hear the case on the use of Aadhaar, the judgment by the nine-judge bench delivered on Thursday deals with the larger issue of the right to privacy of an individual and its classification as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Hindu spoke to Justice (retd) Puttaswamy following the verdict.

How will the judgment of the Supreme Court change the life of an individual citizen?

So far, the right to privacy has been denied and people had not experienced it. The concept of privacy of an individual and its progress with this judgment is a matter of great significance as citizens of India today have the right to privacy as a fundamental right — something that people have not enjoyed so far.

What are your thoughts on the arguments for the right to privacy as a fundamental right in the Constitution?

The Constitution makers never thought of privacy as not being a fundamental right. Somewhere it got bogged down. It has been corrected today by the Supreme Court.

How do you think the judgment will impact the Aadhar Act?

There are some impressions that the Aadhaar Act gets ipso facto (by that very fact or act) in-validated by the right to privacy being upheld by the Supreme Court. In my view, this is not the correct proposition. Aadhar is a different topic but it will definitely be impacted by the judgment, but how [it] is too early to say. The Government says that Aadhaar Act is necessary for several purposes including security. There must be something in their argument but we cannot accept it in entirety.


Have you had a chance to look at the judgment yet? What are your first impressions?

I have not yet studied it. It is a 547 page judgment and will take time. There will be important propositions laid down by the court and these must be studied in detail. There will be a lot of discussion about the judgment. Today’s judgment on right to privacy is about the rights of an individual and not a collective mass.

What are your views on privacy?

Privacy cannot be absolute in a civil society governed by the rule of law. There is nothing like absolute rights. However, this is the most important issue for the courts... In my view, no court can compel a sovereign legislature to do this or not do that. We can certainly request the central government to enact a comprehensive law.

You recently applied for an Aadhar card; what was your experience?

I applied after the Supreme Court upheld the linking of Aadhaar with the Permanent Account Number. The entire process took around 45 minutes. Some parts of the Aadhaar Act could have been avoided.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 11:38:41 PM |

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