Right to privacy case ruling reveals spectrum of opinion

By Sneha Jaisingh and Shreya Gupta, Bharucha & Partners

A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Justice KS Puttaswamy (Retd) & Anr v Union of India & Ors has unanimously held that “[t]he right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21” of India’s constitution. The decision emanates from a constitutional challenge to the collection of data by the government for the Aadhaar card project.

Sneha JaisinghSenior associateBharucha & Partners
Sneha Jaisingh
Senior associate
Bharucha & Partners

By this ruling, the Supreme Court overruled its previous decisions in MP Sharma v Satish Chandra, District Magistrate, Delhi (1954) and Kharak Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh (1962), in which it had held that the constitution did not recognize the right to privacy. Notably, in Kharak Singh the Supreme Court had recognized that “every man’s house is his castle”.

These earlier decisions of the court were founded on the Supreme Court’s majority decision in AK Gopalan v State of Madras (1950), which had held that every fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution in the various articles was mutually exclusive. The Gopalan doctrine was overruled by the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi v Union of India (1978), which recognized that fundamental rights overlapped.

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Sneha Jaisingh and Shreya Gupta are senior associates at Bharucha & Partners.

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