Aadhaar case: SC to announce decision on 'right to privacy'

| Updated: Jul 19, 2017 06:48 IST

New Delhi [India], July 19 (ANI): A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court today will hear the petitions challenging various issues pertaining Aadhaar with the main focus on whether 'right to privacy' is a fundamental right or not. The apex court would decide whether the right to privacy of an individual is a fundamental right or not. The nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) CJI Jagdish Singh Khehar would start hearing the case today. In yesterday's hearing, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court prima facie disagreed with the Centre's argument that citizens did not enjoy right to privacy. The judges, however, referred the case to a nine-judge Constitution Bench which will decide if privacy was a Fundamental Right. Petitions challenged validity of Aadhaar, alleging that collection of biometric data and its linking to all activities violated right to privacy. In its first hearing, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court yesterday referred Aadhaar matter to the Chief Justice of India (GJI) for the constitution of a nine-judge bench to decide whether Aadhaar breaches an individual's privacy or not. The bench, comprising Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and Abdul Nazeer, was to hear a total of 22 cases that challenge several aspects of Aadhaar and the use/sharing of data collected under it. Among these challenges are-making Aadhaar mandatory for social welfare benefits, infringement of right to privacy, making Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs) as well as for obtaining and retaining PAN. The petitioners have argued that right to privacy is part of Article 21, the right to life, and interspersed in Article 19, though not expressedly said in the Constitution. Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court in 2015 that Indian citizens don't have a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution. On July 7, three judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice J. Chelameshwar and also comprising Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha, asked the petitioners to mention it before the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for the Constitution bench to hear the matter. On 13 July, the Supreme Court ruled for the setting of a constitution bench to address the long standing question of whether Indian citizens have the right to privacy, and if Aadhaar breaches that right. The Income Tax Department has stepped up its efforts to encourage people to link their PAN with Aadhaar. The government had earlier made Aadhaar number mandatory for filing income tax returns and applying for a PAN card. (ANI)

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