On Wednesday Senior counsel Gopal Subramanium told the Supreme Court that the right to privacy is a pre-existing natural right which is inherent in the Constitution though not explicitly mentioned during Aadhaar hearing. He is leading the argument on behalf of the lawyer for petitioners who have challenged the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of the right to privacy violation. Subramanium said that “The right to privacy is recognised as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The concept of privacy is embedded in liberty as well as h the honour of a person.” On Wednesday his argument came as the apex court commenced hearing on the question whether right to privacy was a fundamental right.
In the context of two judgements of 1954 and 1962 that had held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right is examining by nine-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar who will examine the nature of privacy as a right. The senior counsel Shyam Divan took forward the argument that privacy is a fundamental right and told the bench that even Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Aadhaar Bill had declared that privacy was a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution linked to the right of liberty.
Subramanium said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while responding to a question during debate in the Rajya Sabha said that the top court was considering the conflicting judgments on privacy and whether it was a fundamental right or not. He told the Rajya Sabha that “the bill (Aadhaar) pre-supposes and based on a premise that it is too late in the day to contend that privacy is not a fundamental right. So I do accept that probably privacy is a fundamental right.” Divan quoted the Union Finance Minister in support of his contention that privacy was a fundamental right and said that in the past 40 years since the mid-1970s different benches of the top court have consistently held that privacy was a fundamental right. He urged the bench to reaffirm this right.