The Supreme Court is going to decide whether citizens’ Right to Privacy comes among the fundamental rights under the Constitution after the Narendra Modi government recently told it that it is not listed under the said list of the statute book.
This might be true but what the government at the Centre and the judiciary needs to understand is that ‘right to privacy’ is a fundamental right in the ‘law of nature’, whether it has found a place in Constitution or not.
The submission, which was made by the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of the Centre, quoted a 1950s verdict delivered by an eight judge bench which had held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right. Though his submission was opposed by the senior advocate Shyam Divan who contended that those judgments does not hold ground currently. But the issue has been raised and as the apex court observed, the issue should be referred to the larger constitution bench.
The apex court’s observation back then as well as Centre’s current submissions were based on words from Constitution, as AG claimed. But the same was written by humans and is not beyond rational approach. If the Constitution has not listed right to privacy as a fundamental right, it’s high time to add this. Let us not put our Constitution out of the reach of our own common sense.
The right to privacy is one of the fundamental rights of every living human being across the globe. Though there are countries which think otherwise as per their own circumstances. For example, after 9/11, USA suddenly invaded everyone’s privacy in the name of security. And citing the same security reasons, everyone accepted it without a word of disapproval. In the name of national interest, even Americans didn’t know when they lost their privacy to their government. But it was no less tragedy than the 9/11 incident itself. A government conspired against the people of its own nation.
Citing such known or some anticipated reasons, several nations have curtailed their own people’s such rights like right to worship and right to express. Though neither can be justified if scrutinised. And here, in India, we need to decide whether we want to follow those countries or show them instead that we are a democracy ~ not just a word written in our Constitution but in the spirit of our nation.
While advocating for making Aadhar scheme mandatory, the counsel said that law on right to privacy is vague in the country.
However, the government’s effort is more on scrapping this fundamental right which is definitely a grave threat for the citizens as individuals. “Constitution makers did not ‘intend’ to make right to privacy a fundamental right,” AG went on to say.
Since the inception of this scheme, the apex court has asked the government repeatedly not to make it mandatory for the citizens. But the government is in no mood to go with those directions.
In this current effort, the AG made the above submissions while hearing a bunch of petition challenging constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme on the ground that the programme violates citizens right to privacy. But his submission has suddenly shifted the focus from Aadhar to one of the basic principles of the law of nature ~ citizens’ right to privacy ~ and to the question that whether it has place in our Constitution. ~ By Nihil (views are author’s own)