• Supreme Court rules right to privacy as fundamental right under the Constitution
• 9-judge SC bench unanimously rules right to privacy protected intrinsically as part of rights under Article 21
• The Constitution bench overrules 2 earlier judgments of Supreme Court that right to privacy is not protected under Constitution
• Ruling was to deal with batch of petitions challenging govt move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of social welfare schemes
New Delhi: In a landmark decision that will affect the lives of all Indians, the Supreme Court Thursday unanimously declared that right to privacy was a fundamental right under the Constitution.
A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by chief justice J.S. Khehar ruled that 'right to privacy was an intrinsic part of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and entire Part III of the Constitution'.
The right to privacy debate: timeline of events
The ruling on the highly contentious issue was to deal with a batch of petitions challenging the Center's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes.
Others members of the bench comprising justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, D.Y. Chandrachud, S.K. Kaul and S. Abdul Nazeer also shared the same view.
The nine judges unanimously overruled the two earlier judgements of the apex court that right to privacy is not protected under the Constitution.
The bench overruled the M.P. Sharma verdict of 1950 and that of Kharak Singh of 1960.
The judgment in the Kharak Singh case was pronounced by eight judges and in M.P.Sharma it was delivered by six judges.
Justice Khehar, who read the operative portion of the judgment, said the subsequent verdicts pronounced after M.P. Sharma and Kharak Singh have laid down the correct position of the law.
Setback to the Center
Hailing the Supreme Court judgment, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said it heralds a new era for individual rights, personal liberty and human dignity.
In a statement, she slammed the Modi government and said the judgment strikes a blow on the 'unbridled encroachment and surveillance by the state and its agencies in the life of the common man'.
Welcoming the historic verdict of the SC, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it was a blow to the designs of the union government (trying) to deny Indians their fundamental right to privacy
Actor Kamal Haasan also welcomed the SC ruling, saying 'that it was moments like these that make India.'
Implications on Aadhaar
Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that the ruling was a 'setback' for the government,
Asked if the ruling will have implications on Aadhaar, Bhushan said: "This judgment does not say anything about that."
He said it appeared that any law which restricts fundamental rights would have to be examined on the touchstone of Article 21.
"If the government asks for Aadhaar for booking railway tickets or if you buy something then such a law would be considered unreasonable restriction on the right to privacy. I feel it will be struck down," Bhushan said.
The petitions challenging Aadhaar will now be referred to a separate five-judge bench.