Privacy is a fundamental right: A timeline of Aadhaar Privacy Case

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The historic judgement came from Supreme Court that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This landmark verdict will have implications on the hearing of Aadhaar Card Case. The nine – judge bench stated that right to privacy shall be a part of Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

 

Below is the timeline of “Right to Privacy” Case

  • July 21, 2015 – On September 23, 2013, Justice J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and C. Nagappan passed an interim order on making Aadhaar Voluntary. But in 2015 the apex court observed that making Aadhaar mandatory was in violation of the Supreme Court’s order that was passed in 2013.
  • July 22, 2015 – On behalf of the centre, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi suggested a separate bench to contemplate the “Right to Privacy” issue and constitutionality of the UID programme and a larger bench should hear the particular contention.
  • August 6, 2015 – The Supreme Court questioned the Centre’s stand on right to privacy not being a fundamental right and sought a larger bench to judge whether privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution of India.
  • August 11, 2015 – Three judge benches referred the matter to a five – judge bench to decide on the larger constitutional issue. The Supreme Court changed the rule and made Aadhaar voluntary by removing mandating of the document to avail benefits offered by the Government.
  • October 7, 2015 – Regardless centres vigorous appeal to modify the interim order, Supreme Court did not agree to link the Aadhaar Cards with the digital India initiative and services such as banking and telecom. Justice J. Chelameshwar directed centre to raise its plea to the constitutional bench when formed.
  • October 8, 2015 – Former Chief Justice of India J.L Dattu in his power decided to set up another constitution bench to look into the matter of Aadhaar Privacy Case.
  • October 15, 2015 – The five – judge bench permitted the government to use Aadhaar for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), National Social Assistance Programme (Old Age Pensions, Widow Pensions, and Disability Pensions) Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
  • March 27, 2017 – Chief Justice of India J.S Khehar observed that that Aadhaar can be “pressed” for all “non-benefit” plans where questions of entitlements do not occur like opening a bank account or filing Income Tax returns.
    Note: [Recently, the Finance Bill had made Aadhaar mandatory for filing tax returns and a permanent account number (PAN) under Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act,1961.]
  • April 27, 2017 – PILs challenging the constitutionality of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act under the Finance Act, 2017 came in front of the Division Bench of Justice A.K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. The petitioners’ council Arvind datar stated that the provision was to scrutinize the black money to get rid of the fraudulent PANs. And the court realised that it cannot intervene in a law passed by the parliament and shifted the matter to a further date.
  • May 19, 2017 – Before the Supreme Court, a petition was filed to seek interim relief from providing Aadhaar cards to avail benefits of 17 social schemes. Also Shyam Divan, petitioners counsel, brought to Court’s that despite the directions given by the court making Aadhaar voluntary, the Centre had released various notification making it mandatory.
  • June 9, 2017 – SC upholds Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act. And leaves the Aadhaar issue of right to privacy to the Constitution Bench.
  • July 12, 2017 – Chief Justice of India, J.S Khehar, agrees to set up a five judge constitution in order to decide a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, primarily whether the scheme which requires the parting of biometric details of citizens to access welfare and benefits, is a violation of the right to privacy.
  • July 18, 2017 – A five-judge Bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, Justices Chelameswar, Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud and S. Abdul Nazeer reach a decision to hand over the case whether privacy is a fundamental right and a part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution to a nine – judge bench.
  • July 19, 2017 – On the first day of hearing the nine – judge bench which consist of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, Justices Chelameswar, Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, Rohinton F. Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Nazeer discerns  that privacy is not absolute and we now live in a world of ‘big data’.
  • August 2, 2017 – The nine – judge bench proposed that framing of “overarching” guidelines to protect private information in public domain “there was a need to maintain the core of privacy”.
  • August 24, 2017 – The nine – judge constitution declares “right to privacy” as a fundamental right. Though, the constitution bench did not say anything categorically on biometrics on Aadhaar.

To know more about the final verdict of SC on “Right to Privacy” read: Verdict of Aadhaar and Right to Privacy Case

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