In a landmark judgment that reverberated through the corridors of Indian jurisprudence, the Supreme Court, in KS Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017), affirmed the right to privacy as a fundamental right protected under the Indian Constitution. The case marked a paradigm shift in the legal landscape, providing citizens with robust safeguards against unwarranted intrusions into their private lives.
The legal saga began with a series of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, which aimed to create a unique identification system for Indian residents. The petitioners contended that the collection and storage of biometric data violated the right to privacy, a contention vehemently contested by the government.
Right to Privacy Recognized:
In a unanimous decision, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court recognized the right to privacy as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. The court emphasized that privacy is not a mere common law right but a fundamental right woven into the constitutional fabric, essential for the preservation of dignity and individual autonomy.
The judgment laid down a three-fold test to determine the validity of any infringement on the right to privacy:
1. Legality: Any intrusion must have a legal basis, be backed by law, and serve a legitimate state aim.
2. Legitimate Aim: The infringement must pursue a legitimate state aim, and the means employed must be proportionate to the goal.
3. Procedural Safeguards: Adequate procedural safeguards must be in place to prevent arbitrary or abuse of power.
Impact Beyond Aadhaar:
While the case originated from concerns about the Aadhaar scheme, its implications extend far beyond. KS Puttaswamy set a precedent for privacy protection in various spheres, influencing subsequent judgments, legislation, and public discourse on data protection and surveillance.
The judgment resonated globally, earning praise for its bold affirmation of privacy rights. It positioned India as a champion of individual liberties in the digital age, aligning with international efforts to protect citizens from unchecked intrusion into their personal spaces.
KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India stands as a testament to the judiciary's commitment to upholding constitutional values and protecting the dignity and autonomy of every individual. The case not only affirmed the right to privacy as a fundamental right but also set a gold standard for evaluating the constitutionality of laws impacting personal freedoms. As India navigates the complexities of the digital era, this judgment remains a guiding beacon for the delicate balance between individual rights and