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SC will hear Right to Privacy Case Today

Because of the Swearing Ceremony of His Excellency the President of India, the Aadhaar hearing shall resume on 26th July.

Another date of the Aadhaar hearing has finally arrived today before the Supreme Court bench which includes whether Aadhaar violates the right to privacy and if the Right to privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
Earlier on July 12, a five judge bench was set up comprising Justices J. Chelameswar, S. A. Bobde, D. Y. Chandrachud and S. Abdul Nazeer to decide on the Aadhaar related matters to hear the petitioners who challenged the constitutionality of the Aadhaar project primarily against the personal details of the citizens to access welfare and benefits under the scheme is a violation of the right to privacy which is guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.

Later on 18th July, the decision on citizens’ right to privacy was passed on to the nine judge headed by the Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, and comprises of Justice J Chelameshwar, Justice S A Bobde, Justice RK Agarwal,Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman,Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre,Justice D Y Chandrachud , Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice S Abdul Nazeer to decide on the issue as to whether the fundamental rights, described under Part III of the Constitution of India, also include the right to privacy.

Note: [The nine-Judge Bench deals with limited issue of right to privacy and matters challenging the Aadhaar scheme would be referred back to a smaller bench].

Another petition was filed in the court against the data sharing which includes personal photographs, messages etc by the users in social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, which in turn violates citizen’s right to privacy. Defending that the senior advocate and Counsel for WhatsApp and Facebook Senior Counsel Kapil Sibbal argues that information provided WhatsApp  is secured and kept end-end encrypted and cannot be read even by the company and hence the privacy by the platform is not violated.

Observing the two cases, we see the other side of the Centre where it contradicts its own stand. On one hand it says that privacy of an individual is not a fundamental right whereas, in WhatsApp case they argues that a person’s Right to Life under Article 21(Right to Life and Liberty) of the Constitution would need to be regulated.

According to the Supreme Court, if Private companies can have all the personal information of the user why not the Government? To which petitioners’ lawyer, Sajan Povayya says

that there is a contract with the private parties; any breach of the contract one can sue them. But no such contract takes place with the Government.

As today is the hearing for the same case, the matter needs to be settled as soon as possible as it questions the right to privacy of its citizens. Also it would be interesting to see the response of Government where in one hand it wants to protect the data of individuals collected by private entities and on the other hand it denies the same under the Aadhaar scheme.

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