Right to privacy

The Aadhaar bill might safeguard that right adequately, but the relevance of the issue goes beyond one project


The spotlight has been trained on the individual’s right to privacy under the Indian Constitution in recent years because of the Aadhaar project. The Aadhaar bill might safeguard that right adequately, but the relevance of the issue goes beyond one project.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution did not recognize the fundamental right to privacy, only for later, albeit smaller, benches to rule that such a right was implied in Article 21, guaranteeing the right to life and personal liberty. The matter was referred to a five-judge constitution bench last year.

But by leaving the issue to the judiciary, the legislature is ducking its responsibility. The justice Shah committee report had made a strong case for a Privacy Act to explicitly enshrine the concept in the statute books. The government would do well to follow through and fall in line with globally accepted privacy principles.