As right to privacy is multifaceted, it can't be treated as a fundamental right, Centre tells SC

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File   | Photo Credit:

The Union government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that since privacy is multifaceted, it cannot be treated as a fundamental right.

Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal resumed his arguments before a nine-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, stressing that it was not a fundamental right.

“There is no fundamental right to privacy and even if it is assumed as a fundamental right, it is multifaceted. Every facet can’t be ipso facto considered a fundamental right,” Mr. Venugopal told the Bench, which also comprised Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.

He said “informational privacy” could not be a right to privacy and it could not ever be a fundamental right.

On Wednesday he told the Bench that the right to privacy could be a fundamental right, but could not be “absolute”.

The contentious issue of whether the right is a fundamental one was referred to a larger bench in 2015 after the Centre underlined two judgements delivered in 1950 and 1962 by the apex court that had held it was not a fundamental right.

The court had observed that the State could seek information such as details of the number of children a woman had but, at the same time, could not force her to answer a question on how many abortions she’d had.

The court had asked the AG the difference between the right to privacy being considered a common law right and a fundamental right.

He had replied that the common law right could be enforced by filing a civil law suit and if it was considered a fundamental right, the court could enforce it like any other writ.

On Wednesday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing non-BJP ruled States Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Puducherry argued that these States supported the contention that the right to privacy be held as fundamental in the age of technological advancements.

Giving the example of the Global Positioning System (GPS), Mr. Sibal had said the movement of person could be tracked and misused by the State as well as by non-State actors.

On July 18, the court set up the Constitution Bench after the matter was referred to a larger Bench by a five-judge Bench.

Petitions before the court had claimed that the collection and sharing of biometric information, as required under the Aadhaar scheme, was a breach of the “fundamental” right to privacy.

On July 19, the Centre submitted in the court that the right to privacy could not fall in the bracket of fundamental rights, as there were binding decisions of larger benches that it was a common law right evolved through judicial pronouncements.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 3:14:18 PM |

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