Pune: The Symbiosis Law School, Pune of the Symbiosis International University (SIU) conducted a national seminar on 'Right to Privacy' on their campus recently.
The objective of the seminar was to promote awareness, debate and public discourse on the 'Right to Privacy'. Right to Privacy has been upheld as a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution by a 9-judge bench of the Supreme Court in KS Puttaswamy vs the Union of India.
Justice HL Gokhale, a former judge of the Supreme Court, was the chief guest while Ranbir Singh, the Vice Chancellor of the National Law University, Delhi was the guest of honour. Ulhas Bapat, Director of Bapat Academy for English, SB Mujumdar, Chancellor of SIU, Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor of SIU, Rajani Gupte, Vice-Chancellor of SIU and Shashikala Gurpur, Director of SLS-P and Dean of Faculty of Law at SIU were present.
Gurpur gave an overview of the judgment, mentioning key points of the Right to Privacy as in the main judgement. She explained how the Aadhaar scheme, which collected biometric data of people, became the centre of controversy concerning privacy rights. She apprised the audience of Aristotle’s division between public sphere and private sphere as quoted by Justice DY Chandrachud, an SC Judge, in the judgement.
Gurpur emphasised on the nine facets of privacy such as bodily, spatial, communicational, proprietary, intellectual, decisional, associational, behavioural and informational and the horizontal versus vertical rights given in the same judgment.
“Justice Fali Nariman, the pioneer in addressing the issue of privacy in the digital context and the visionary behind the Doctrine of Originalism. The judgment will have impact on LGBT rights and decriminalisation of same-sex marriages, Aadhaar Card, data theft, disclosure to election commission by candidates etc,” said Gurpur.
Speaking on ‘Right to Privacy: Constitutional Perspectives’, Bapat said, “The strength of Indian democracy still stands tall on the pillars of the Constitution of India and the SC, unlike many other democracies that emerged post World War-II and could not survive the test of time.”
Bapat emphasised on the judicial activism in certain landmark cases, such as Right to Education and appointment of judges to High Courts (HC) and the SC. He elaborated on the Doctrine of Silences and forced judicial activism such as in the recent case of triple talaq, where the judiciary had to step in to compensate for the lack of initiative on the part of the legislature.
Singh spoke on ‘Right to Privacy: Jurisprudential Concept’. Talking about the absoluteness of the right, he said, “At the most, the right can be considered to be a qualified right subject to certain restrictions, as absolute rights do not harmonise with the community and an inevitable revolution in technology is bound to affect it.”
“The whole debacle ensued because of want of the government to link the Aadhaar card with everything, initiating a subtle process of surveillance, which made the requirement of a concrete right to privacy which has become the need of the hour,” said Singh.
Speaking on ‘Judicial Trajectory on Right to Privacy’, Justice Gokhale threw light on the previous judgments which have been instrumental in the build-up that led to the passing of current judgment.
“The MP Sharma (1954) and Kharak Singh (1963) cases had a dissenting opinion expressing the vitality of this right. The rights such as the right to eat, marry or dress, which did not have a concrete backing till date cannot be disregarded now by virtue of the recent judgment in favour of privacy,” said Justice Gokhale.