New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said an Aadhaar card was not mandatory for availing government social welfare schemes.
The court said this while referring to the constitution bench, a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds that it violates the right to privacy.
An apex court bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar said that it can be used as an alternative for the distribution of articles such as foodgrains as well as kerosene and LPG under the public distribution system, but under no circumstances can the authorities insist on possession of the Aadhaar card.
Pronouncing the order, the court said the government will give wide publicity to this via electronic and print media and radio.
The court also recorded the statement by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that no personal information collected at the time of issuing the Aadhaar card will be shared with any person or the authorities.
The court said the hearing by the constitution bench on the challenge to the Aadhaar card will be held as early as possible.
Earlier, the bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar took note of the “apparent unresolved issues” while referring the matter to the constitution bench.
Right to privacy was made a fundamental right for citizens of India
The decision came out unanimously by the bench of 9 judges including Chief Justice JS Khehar
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan noted ‘all fundamental rights come with reasonable restrictions’
New Delhi, August 24, 2017: In another landmark verdict by the Supreme Court, Right to privacy was made a fundamental right for citizens of India. Supreme Court today ruled: The right to privacy “is protected as an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty.”
A crowd of petitioners previously challenged the government’s Aadhaar biometric project, which has taped the iris scans and fingerprints of more than half a population.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan noted ‘all fundamental rights come with reasonable restrictions.’ He further cautioned by saying that ‘whether Aadhaar can be seen as a reasonable restriction has yet to be decided’.
The decision came out unanimously by the bench of 9 judges including Chief Justice JS Khehar. Right to privacy is a fundamental right of every citizen, the judges said, overruling two previous Supreme Court judgments.
It is a watershed moment, remarked Sajan Poovayya, a petitioner in the case. “Whatever the state decides will be checked and tested on that basis. The powers of the state are curtailed to some extent,” he told NDTV.
Background: Government vs. Petitioners
The government argued in the past that ‘right to privacy’ is not explicitly embodied in the Constitution as the founding fathers expelled the idea of inclusion of privacy as a fundamental liberty.
However, petitioners contended that in technologically dynamic society, the identification of privacy as a fundamental freedom is an essential step against interference into personal space by the government and private players.
Adhar was criticised as a design which infringes privacy. India lacking the law on privacy aggravated the problem in the past.
Contentious argument: Why protect Adhaar?
India is swiftly emerging as a digital market. Being a nation of billion mobile users, it needs laws on privacy and data protection as well.
Chances of fraudulence, misrepresentation, ID theft are increasingly becoming the real concerns.
With the growing number of transactions done over the internet, information shared on such digital platforms become imperiled to misuse and theft.
Right to privacy bearing on Section 377
In 2013, the apex Court had supported Section 377 of the IPC, an iron fisted law that criminalizes the intimate relations “against the law of nature.” Today, the court’s decree on Right to Privacy also brought the protection of physical intimacies.
Explaining the concept of privacy, Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the nine-judge bench that pronounced the verdict, said in his judgment: “Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation… Privacy also connotes a right to be left alone.”
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