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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Right to life will prevail over right to privacy, Modi govt tells Supreme Court

The constitution bench of the Supreme Court is holding hearings to decide if right to privacy is a fundamental right.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 16:20 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lawyers outside Supreme Court.
Lawyers outside Supreme Court. (File Photo)

Right to privacy was subservient to right to life, the government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, defending Aadhaar that has raised data breach worries but which the authorities say is needed to ensure livelihoods for the poor.

Privacy can’t be a fundamental right and should there be a conflict between the two rights, the right to life would prevail.

“Privacy is a species of liberty, which is subordinate to the right to life. Aadhaar is to secure poor’s right to life — food, shelter,” the government told the court, as four non-BJP states joined the chorus for privacy to be declared a fundamental right.

The constitution bench of the Supreme Court is holding hearings to decide if right to privacy is a fundamental right.

The issue needs to be settled for it to hear petitions that challenge Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric identity number which critics say violates privacy.

The government wondered if the privacy rights of a select few “could destroy the rights of large group of others”, as it sought to link Aadhaar to right to livelihood.

The government is keen on expanding the reach of Aadhaar, saying it is necessary to plug leakages in subsidy schemes and to ensure benefits reach those targeted. But critics say the move violates privacy, is vulnerable to data breaches and helps government spy on people.

The court is also revisiting two judgments, in 1954 and 1962, that said privacy was not a fundamental right.

Seeking the court’s intervention, Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Puducherry opposed the Centre, which said right to privacy was not a fundamental right. “Privacy cannot be an absolute right but it is a fundamental right. This court needs to strike a balance,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the four states, said.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 16:08 IST

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