To Be Or Not To Be: Tackling the Question of Right to Privacy

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privacy

While the right to privacy is not dealt with by the Indian constitution, it needs to be debated and demanded given the new and emerging challenges to individual privacy   

TAHMINA LASKAR | Special to Caravan Daily

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]midst the ongoing debate in the Supreme Court on the AADHAR issue, the question that is caught between the rock and a hard place is the right to privacy. The right to privacy has not been mentioned anywhere in the Indian Constitution and while arguing the fact that the right to privacy does not exist in the AADHAR issue (AADHAR is an intrusion to Right to Privacy) the Attorney General of India insisted that the right of privacy and its existence be conclusively proved by a constitution bench of the Supreme Court and the matter be determined once and for all. He in fact cited two very old judgments totally out of context with a view to strengthen his stand.

After debates in the Constituent Assembly on the right to privacy, the Constitution was written and enforced in 1950 without an explicit recognition of the individual’s privacy as a fundamental right. But it is also true that the courts have upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right time and again under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as being the part of compendium of rights.

RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak says, “Now that the Apex Court has publicly stated that it is not sure whether privacy is a fundamental right in India, the precedent set by Asian Education Society is called into question. Information Commissions are advised to desist from citing this case to reject access to information under RTI on grounds of privacy because the very basis of that judgement has now become unreliable. Thanks to the latest decision of the Supreme Court a major chunk of the jurisprudence under the RTI Act relating to the right to privacy has become unstable. How soon will stability return depends upon how soon the Constitution Bench of the Apex Court is constituted and will dispose of the matter.  All said, in my humble opinion, the Attorney General of India has contributed to the creation of more problems than solving existing ones.”

While the Court has instructed that the Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an AADHAAR card and the production of an AADHAR card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen one does not really find sense as to why the ball is in Supreme Court’s court to decide on the right to privacy.

It is clear that the government very cleverly has bought time so that in the meantime they can push through AADHAAR, DNA profiling and seed the data wherever they want. One otherwise fails to make sense of why the same people who opposed the AADHAR scheme tooth and nail once are rooting for it. Not only this, while justifying volte face on their porn ban the government was rooting for privacy. These contradictory stances definitely point to a larger conspiracy to curb the right to privacy and there is more to the controversy than what meets the eye.

 

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