Author: Smriti Parsheera
This article was first published in The Economic Times on August 25, 2017 . The views are of the individual authors.
In a resounding victory for liberty in India, nine judges of the Supreme Court have affirmed that the right to privacy constitutes a Fundamental Right. It draws colour from the right to life and liberty under Article 21 and many other freedoms guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution. Earlier pronouncements of the court in MP Sharma and Kharak Singh, which indicated otherwise, stand overruled.
Five separate judgments delivered by the bench converged on all these points. This verdict will have many implications for what Justice Chandrachud refers to as our “negative freedoms” — protection from intrusions into personal space and personality; and “positive freedoms” — obligation on the state to adopt protective measures. While enforceability against the state is obvious, the judges repeatedly note that privacy threats also emanate from non-state actors, particularly so in the digital age. It is therefore the duty of the state to bring about legislative interventions for such situations.
The data protection law promised by the government is one obvious step in this direction. This verdict is expected to have at least three immediate implications. The first flows from a much-needed course correction in the SC views on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
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