NEW DELHI: Privacy is the constitutional core of human dignity and a protected right which emerges from the guarantee of life and personal liberty in Article 21, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
The apex court said privacy ensures the fulfilment of dignity and is a core value which the protection of life and liberty is intended to achieve.
Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices RK Agrawal, SA Nazeer and DY Chandrachud, who were part of the nine-judge constitution bench, said elements of privacy arise in varying contexts from other facets of freedom and dignity recognised and guaranteed by the fundamental rights contained in Part III of the Constitution.
Justice Chandrachud, who wrote a separate judgement on behalf of himself and three other judges, said privacy safeguards an individual’s autonomy and recognises the ability of the individual to control vital aspects of life. However, the four judges, who concurred with five others in declaring the right to privacy as the fundamental right under the Constitution, said, like other fundamental rights, the “right to privacy is not an absolute right.”
Interestingly, Justice Chandrachud overruled a judgement on the privacy issue authored by his father Justice YV Chandrachud in the famous case of ADM Jabalpur vs Shivakant Shukla in 1976.
While delivering the verdict, the judges were cautious of the ramification and dangers to privacy in a digital era and asked the government ‘to examine and put in place a robust regime for data protection as threats can originate not only from the state but from non-state actors as well’.
“We commend to the Union Government the need to examine and put into place a robust regime for data protection. The creation of such a regime requires a careful balance between individual interests and legitimate concerns of state.” “This includes for instance protecting national security, preventing and investigating crime, encouraging innovation etc,” Justice Chandrachud, said.