Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Samit Gopal, J., addressed a petition assailing the constitutional validity of Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020 and asked the State of Uttar Pardesh to file a response for the same.

Present petition was preferred to assail the constitutional validity of “The Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020”.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that Ordinance impugned deserves to be declared void being inconsistent with the provisions of Part-III of the Constitution of India. Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Re: Destruction of Public & Private Properties v. State of A.P., (2009) 5 SCC 212, stated that a person is having a fundamental right to privacy. Such valuable right shall be seriously infringed by operation of the Ordinance of 2020.

Further, provisions of the Ordinance shall allow the persons to be viral for public at large as criminal without their adjudication for any criminal charge. The above stated Ordinance is also in contravention of Supreme Court’s decision in Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Ltd., 2019 SCC Online SC 1456.

Adding to the above, it was emphasized that the intention of the Ordinance is only to frustrate and overrule the law laid down by a Division Bench of this Court In-Re Banners Placed on Road Side In The City of Lucknow v. State of Uttar Pradesh (PIL No. 532 of 2020), decided on 9-03-2020.

Bench in view of the above considered it appropriate to have adequate response of the State of Uttar Pradesh by a counter affidavit on or before 25-03-2020.

The case has been listed for 27-03-2020. [Shashank Shri Tripathi v. State of U.P., PIL No. 547 of 2020, decided on 18-03-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Ramesh Sinha, J. directed the District Magistrate, Lucknow and the Commissioner of Police, Lucknow Commissionerate, Lucknow to remove the banners from the roadside containing personal data of individuals who were accused of destroying the public property during Anti-CAA Protests in December 2019.

Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. In our country, where privacy is not explicitly recognized as funamental right in the constitution, the Courts have found such right protected as an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

In the present public interest writ, undertaken by the Court at its own, simple question is, the legitimacy of the display of photographs, name and address of certain persons by the district administration and police administration of the Lucknow through banners. It has been further stated that, banners came up at a major roadside with personal details of more than 50 persons accused of vandalism during a protest in December, 2019. 

Chief Justice of this Court on noticing the injury to right to privacy, directed the registry to register a petition for the writ in public interest.

The main issue about the unwarranted interference in the privacy of people, it would be appropriate to state that admittedly no statutory provisions in that regard were available with the State.

Supreme Court in Malak Singh v. State of Punjab and Haryana, (1981) 1 SCC 420 held that even for history sheeters who have the necessary criminal history the information about the history sheet and the surveillance has to be kept discreet and confidential that cannot be shared with public and there is no question of posting the photographs of history sheeters even at police stations.

Bench stated that, on scaling, the act of the State, there was no necessity required for a democratic society for a legitimate aim to have the publication of personal data and identity.

Thus, in entirety, the action of the State was an unwarranted interference in the privacy of people and the same in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.[In-Re Banners Placed On Road Side In the City of Lucknow v. State of U.P.,  2020 SCC OnLine All 244, decided on 09-03-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Two Finger test Held — Unconstitutional

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., while deciding  the two clubbed appeals, held that,

“Two-finger test is unconstitutional. It violates the right of the victim to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.”

Court while analysing the present set of appeals stated that, it is a very unique acquittal appeal.

In the present case, two appeals have been combined.

The accused has been convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 366 and 363 of the Penal Code, 1860. Trial Court acquitted the accused for the charge of rape under Section 376 of IPC.

Prosecutions’ Case

While the victim was on her way to answer nature’s call early in the morning, she was hit by the accused with a weapon and forcefully taken away by him. While the victim was in custody and confinement of the accused, she was ravished forcefully.

It has been stated that the victim went missing on 26-03-1994, but the FIR lodged by the mother was on 10-04-1994. Further, the investigation revealed that the victim was confined at the house of the brother of the accused. Once the accused was arrested by the police at the stated place, the victim and the accused were thereafter sent for medical examination.

Through the birth certificates and other relevant documents, it was found that the victim was a minor at the date of the alleged offence, i.e. she was less than 16 years of age.

On noting the oral and documentary evidence, the trial court held the accused guilty of offences punishable under Sections 363 and 366 of Penal Code, 1860. But the trial court acquitted the accused of the charge of rape under Section 376 IPC on an erroneous assumption that the victim was major on the said date of offence.

Analysis of the Court

As stated earlier, the Court found the present set of appeals as a very “unique acquittal appeal”.

It was noted that, at the time when the trial court heard the prosecution and the defence on the point of the sentence that the trial court realised that it had committed a mistake in calculating the age of the victim. Trial Court acknowledged its mistake, but declined to do anything in the matter, as the order of acquittal was already pronounced.

Point about the “Two-Finger Test”

Court noted very disturbing contents in the medical certificate of the victim, wherein it appeared that in the course of the medical examination, the two-finger test was conducted.

“The two-finger test also known as the PV (Per Vaginal) refers to an intrusive physical examination of a woman’s vagina to figure out the laxity of vaginal muscles and whether the hymen is distensible or not. In this, the doctor puts two fingers inside the woman’s vagina and the ease with which the fingers penetrate her are assumed to be in direct proportion to her sexual experience. Thus, if the fingers slide in easily the woman is presumed to be sexually active and if the fingers fail to penetrate or find difficulty in penetrating, then it is presumed that she has her hymen intact, which is a proof of her being a virgin.”

Adding to the above, Court also stated that the two-finger test is one of the most unscientific methods of examination that is used in the context of sexual assault and has no forensic value. Section 155 of the Indian Evidence Act, does not allow a rape victim’s credibility to be compromised.

To add to the analysis, Court while placing their concern with regard to the “two-finger test” also stated that,

“Medical procedures should not be carried out in a manner that constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and health should be of paramount consideration while dealing with gender-based violence.”

Referring to the Supreme Court case in, Lillu v. State of Haryana, (2013) 14 SCC 643, wherein it was held that,

“…A rapist not only causes physical injuries, but leaves behind a scar on the most cherished position of a woman, i.e. her dignity, honour, reputation and chastity.”

 “…two-finger test and its interpretation violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.”

 Learned APP, submitted he is not sure whether the State of Gujarat has issued any directions to do away with the Per-Vaginum examination – Two-Finger Test.

 Endeavour is to remind the trial courts as well as the medical fraternity that the “two-finger test” is unconstitutional, as it violates the right of the victim of sexual assault to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.

Further, the Court found the only question for consideration,

“Whether the trial court committed any error in holding the accused guilty of the offence of kidnapping punishable under Section 366 IPC and acquitting the accused of the offence of rape punishable under Section 376 IPC?

 For the above, High Court stated that, in case if the victim was a consenting party and had some relations with the accused, there is no escape from the fact that the victim was minor.

Once the victim is found to be a minor at the time of commission of offence, more particularly, when it comes to the offence of rape, the accused cannot plead in his defence that the victim was a consenting party.

Conclusion

High Court on perusal of the above stated that unfortunately, the trial court realised its mistake at a very late stage and in such circumstances, the trial court found itself in a helpless situation as it could not have reviewed its order of erroneous acquittal or illegal acquittal so far as the offence of rape was concerned.

Thus, the High Court held the accused to be guilty of the offence of rape punishable under Section 376 of IPC. Conviction appeal preferred by the accused should fail and the acquittal appeal preferred by the State of Gujarat should succeed.  [State of Gujarat v. Rameshchandra Rambhai Panchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 114, decided on 17-01-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: In yet another historic verdict, the 5-judge constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and NV Ramana, Dr. DY Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the purview of the Right to Information. In the 250-pages long judgment, Justice Sanjiv Khanna wrote the mjority opinion for the Bench and Justices NV Ramana and DY Chandrachud gave separate but concurring opinion.

Majority Verdict penned by Sanjiv Khanna, J

“Judicial independence and accountability go hand in hand as accountability ensures, and is a facet of judicial independence.”

Section 8(1)(j) vis-à-vis Section 11 of the RTI Act

Section 8(1)(j) specifically refers to invasion of the right to privacy of an individual and excludes from disclosure information that would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of such individual, unless the disclosure would satisfy the larger public interest test. This clause also draws a distinction in its treatment of personal information, whereby disclosure of such information is exempted if such information has no relation to public activity or interest.

On the relative scope of both the provisions, the Court said,

“the scope of ‘information’ under Section 11 is much broader than that of clause (j) to Section 8 (1), as it could include information that is personal as well as information that concerns the government and its working, among others, which relates to or is supplied by a third party and treated as confidential. Third-party could include any individual, natural or juristic entity including the public authority.”

Public Interest Test

The Court said that the public interest test in the context of the RTI Act would mean reflecting upon the object and purpose behind the right to information, the right to privacy and consequences of invasion, and breach of confidentiality and possible harm and injury that would be caused to the third party, with reference to a particular information and the person.

Some of the important aspects highlighted by the Court are as follows:

    • Public interest has no relationship and is not connected with the number of individuals adversely affected by the disclosure which may be small and insignificant in comparison to the substantial number of individuals wanting disclosure.
    • Public interest is not immutable and even time-gap may make a significant difference
    • The type and likelihood of harm to the public interest behind the exemption and public interest in disclosure would matter. The delicate balance requires identification of public interest behind each exemption and then cumulatively weighing the public interest in accepting or maintaining the exemption(s) to deny information in a particular case against the public interest in disclosure in that particular case.
    • ‘Motive’ and ‘purpose’ for making the request for information is irrelevant and being extraneous cannot be a ground for refusing the information. However, this is not to state that ‘motive’ and ‘purpose’ may not be relevant factor while applying the public interest test in case of qualified exemptions governed by the public interest test.

Judicial Independence

The independence of judiciary is not limited to judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and the High Courts, as it is a much wider concept which takes within its sweep independence from many other pressures and prejudices. It consists of many dimensions including fearlessness from other power centres, social, economic and political, freedom from prejudices acquired and nurtured by the class to which the judges belong and the like.

The Court said that it cannot be doubted and debated that the independence of the judiciary is a matter of ennobled public concern and directly relates to public welfare and would be one of the factors to be taken into account in weighing and applying the public interest test. Thus, when the public interest demands the disclosure of information, judicial independence has to be kept in mind while deciding the question of exercise of discretion. It, however, said,

“we should not be understood to mean that the independence of the judiciary can be achieved only by denial of access to information. Independence in a given case may well demand openness and transparency by furnishing the information.”

The Court concluded by saying that in each case, the public interest test would be applied to weigh the scales and on balance determine whether information should be furnished or would be exempt. Therefore, a universal affirmative or negative answer is not possible. However, independence of judiciary is a matter of public interest.

Delhi High Court’s Judgment

The Court upheld the 2010 Delhi High Court verdict where it had directed the CPIO, Supreme Court of India to furnish information on the judges of the Supreme Court who had declared their assets. The Court said that such disclosure would not, in any way, impinge upon the personal information and right to privacy of the judges.

NV Ramana, J’s separate but concurring opinion

“Right to information should not be allowed to be used as a tool of surveillance to scuttle effective functioning of judiciary.”

Stating that transparency cannot be allowed to run to its absolute, considering the fact that efficiency is equally important principle to be taken into fold, Justice Ramana talked about a 2-step process to ascertain whether the information should be disclosed. He laid down non-exhaustive lists of considerations that need to be considered while assessing both the steps

First Step: Whether information is private or not

  • The nature of information.
  • Impact on private life.
  • Improper conduct.
  • Criminality
  • Place where the activity occurred or the information was found.
  • Attributes of claimants such as being a public figure, a minor etc and their reputation.
  • Absence of consent.
  • Circumstances and purposes for which the information came into the hands of the publishers.
  • Effect on the claimant.
  • Intrusion’s nature and purpose

Second step: Whether the public interest justifies discloser of such information under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act

  • Nature and content of the information
  • Consequences of non-disclosure; dangers and benefits to public
  • Type of confidential obligation.
  • Beliefs of the confidant; reasonable suspicion
  • Party to whom information is disclosed
  • Manner in which information acquired
  • Public and private interests
  • Freedom of expression and proportionality.

Chandrachud, J’s separate but concurring opinion

“To use judicial independence as a plea to refuse accountability is fallacious. Independence is secured by accountability. Transparency and scrutiny are instruments to secure accountability.”

Though Chandrachud, J noticed that to be independent a judge must have the ability to decide ‘without fear or favour, affection or ill will’ and that the Constitution creates conditions to secure the independence of judges by setting out provisions to govern appointments, tenure and conditions of service, he, however, said

“But constitutional design must be realised through the actual working of its functionaries. Mechanisms which facilitate independence are hence a crucial link in ensuring that constitutional design translates into the realisation of judicial independence. Facilitative mechanisms include those which promote transparency. For true judicial independence is not a shield to protect wrong doing but an instrument to secure the fulfilment of those constitutional values which an independent judiciary is tasked to achieve.”

He further said that the judiciary, like other institutions envisaged by the Constitution, is essentially a human institution. The independence of the judiciary was not envisaged to mean its insulation from the checks and balances that are inherent in the exercise of constitution power.

[Central Public Information Officer v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1459, decided on 13.11.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the bid to gather information from intermediaries regarding the names of the originators of any message/content/information shared on the platforms run by these intermediaries, the Court has asked the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology to file an affidavit within three weeks placing on record the stage at which the process of framing/notifying the rules is at. The Court also asked the Secretary to give definite timelines in respect of completing the process of notifying the rules.

The bench of Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha passed the order in the light of the fact that there are various messages and content spread/shared on the social media, some of which are harmful.

“Some messages can incite violence. There may be messages which are against the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Social media has today become the source of large amount of pornography. Paedophiles use social media in a big way. Drugs, weapons and other contrabands can be sold through the use of platforms run by the intermediaries.”

The bench, hence, noticed that in such circumstances, it is imperative that there is a properly framed regime to find out the persons/institutions/bodies who are the originators of such content/messages. It may be necessary to get such information from the intermediaries.

Some intermediaries, however, submitted that they cannot provide information either with regard to the content or with regard to the originators because they have end to end encryption and therefore, even the intermediaries are not in a position to find out who is the originator or what is the content.

On the said issue, the Court noticed that

“de-encryption, if available easily, could defeat the fundamental right of privacy and de-encryption of messages may be done under special circumstances but it must be ensured that the privacy of an individual is not invaded. However, at the same time, the sovereignty of the State and the dignity and reputation of an individual are required to be protected.”

It, hence, said that for purposes of detection, prevention and investigation of certain criminal activities it may be necessary to obtain such information. De-encryption and revelation of the identity of the originator may also be necessary in certain other cases, some of which have been highlighted hereinabove.

After Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told that the Court that  the matter is under active consideration of the Union of India and that the draft rules in this regard have already been framed and are only required to be notified, the Court asked Solicitor General to take complete instructions in the matter.

[Facebook Inc. v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1264, order dated 24.09.2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: While hearing Facebook Inc’s petition asking Supreme Court to hear all cases related to demands for linking Aadhaar to social media accounts and tracing the source of WhatsApp messages, the Court said that there has to be a balance between privacy and how to govern. The court, hence, issued notice to Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, the centre and Tamil Nadu asking for their response by September 13 on whether the petitions should be transferred from high courts across India to the Supreme Court. Various cases are being heard by the high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

The Court said,

“There is a conflict between privacy and how the government should run the country when crimes are committed. There has to be a balance… under what condition information can be given and to whom,”

Facebook and WhatsApp, asking that all petitions be transferred to the top court, said it was a matter of high magnitude and affected the privacy of the entire nation.

On Monday, the Tamil Nadu government had told the Supreme Court that social media profiles of users need to be linked with Aadhaar numbers to check the circulation of fake, defamatory and pornographic content as also anti-national and terror material. However, Facebook Inc resisted the state’s suggestion on grounds that the sharing of the 12-digit Aadhaar number, the biometric unique identity, would violate privacy policy of users.

Facebook Inc said it cannot share the Aadhaar number with a third party as the content on its instant messaging WhatsApp was end-to-end encrypted and no one can access it.

The Tamil Nadu government, which is deep into a case related to the deadly Blue Whale game, argued that the centre was struggling to find out who the creator of the game was and who gives directions. Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing Tamil Nadu, said,

“Someone says he is a young person from Russia. A number of people have died in India playing the Blue Whale. Let the Madras High Court continue with its hearing,”

The Supreme Court said,

“We are aware of Blue Whale. What is happening in dark web is worse than Blue Whale. The idea of the Madras High court expanding the issue was that if need be, shouldn’t the intermediary inform the police about details of person for crime detection? We are not examining the merits of the case, only dealing with the transfer of the cases to the Supreme Court.”

(Source: NDTV)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of CJ Hrishikesh Roy and A.K. Jayashankaran Nambiar, J. opined that the students could not be compelled to continue in a college which according to their perception was detrimental to their career and laid that there was no reason to interfere with the judgment of the single Judge whereby students were allowed the inter-college transfer.

Respondent student sought inter-collegiate transfer from the Cochin Institute of Science and Technology to another self-financing college under the same university since the amenities and infrastructure in his college were inadequate. But the college principal did not accord permission for the inter-college transfer. Thus, the respondent herein had filed a petition before this Court and a Single Judge Bench[1] allowed the same holding that college could not arbitrarily reject issuance of NOC to students desirous of taking admission into another college/ institute. Aggrieved by the said decision, the appellant-college preferred the instant appeal.

The counsel for the appellant, Anoop V. Nair and M.S. Sandeep Sudhakaran contended that if such inter-college transfer was permitted, the functioning of the appellant college would itself be put to jeopardy as it might possibly adversely impact those opting to continue in the Cochin Institute of Science and Technology.

The Court relied on the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1, in which it was held that the right of a person to individual autonomy was matter of personal choice and preferences were integral to his dignity and thereby it was his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It remarked that “freedom to choose the college of his/her choice for pursuit of their studies is according to us, an aspect of the Fundamental Right to privacy, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

The Court held that the appellants had not been able to show any condition either statutory or contractual which obliged a student admitted to their college to necessarily continue their course of study in the same institution and therefore when a student felt that he could secure better education in another college and there was no legal bar in exercise of such option, appellants could not compel the students to continue their curriculum from the same college. Hence, the Court dismissed the appeals for being devoid of merit.[Cochin Institute of Science and Technology v. Jisin Jijo, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1800, decided on 04-06-2019]

[1] https://blog.scconline.com/post/2019/06/12/ker-hc-college-cannot-arbitrarily-reject-issuance-of-noc-to-students-desirous-of-taking-admission-into-another-college-institute/

Case BriefsHigh Courts

“Transparency of information is vital in curbing corruption. The approach of the court must be to attenuate the area of secrecy as much as possible consistently with the requirement of public interest.”

 Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of V. Chitambaresh and R. Narayana Pisharadi, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by a co-operative society against an order directing furnishing of information sought under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Appellant – an agricultural development bank – was incorporated under the provisions of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act, 1969. Respondent’s 4 and 5 sought certain information from the respondent 1 under the RTI Act relating to grant of loans and expenses incurred by the appellant in connection with the cases instituted with regard to certain loan transactions. Appellant was directed by first respondent to furnish the required information to the respondent’s 4 and 5. The said order was challenged in a writ petition wherein the learned Single Judge directed 1st respondent to hear the appellant and 4th respondent and any other interested party before furnishing information to the applicants.

Appellant’s contentions were: (i) that it is not a public authority under RTI Act and thus not liable to furnish the information, and (ii) that the first respondent had no authority to collect information from the appellant, and to furnish such information to respondent’s 4 and 5.

The Court noted that being a cooperative society, appellant was not a ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Hence, it was not legally obliged to furnish any information sought for by a citizen under RTI Act. However, placing reliance on Thalappalam Service Co-operative Bank Limited v. State of Kerala, (2013) 16 SCC 82 it was opined that Registrar of Cooperative Societies can collect such information from the appellant which he is otherwise empowered to collect under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act, and furnish that information to the applicant, subject to the restrictions under Section 8 of the RTI Act.

It was observed that the appellant’s case was not that it has no obligation under the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act to provide the information sought for. The right to privacy of a third party was protected by the direction issued by the learned Single Judge to hear the appellant and other interested persons before furnishing the information to the applicants. In view thereof, the writ appeal was dismissed.[Kunnathunad Taluk Primary Co-Operative Agricultural and Rural Development Bank Ltd. v. Registrar of Co-Operative Societies, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 726, Order dated 26-02-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Constitutional Court of South Africa: A 10-Judge Bench comprising of Zondo, ACJ., Cameron, Froneman, Jafta, Madlanga, Mhlantla, Theron, JJ., Kathree-Setiloane, Kollapen, Zondi, AJ., unanimously declared private use of cannabis a matter of privacy and thereby appeal was dismissed.

 The facts of the case are that High Court gave an order due to which Sections 4(b) and 5(b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, 1992 read with Part III of Schedule 2 to the Drugs Act and Section 22A(9)(a)(i) of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act,1965 and Section 22A(10) read with Schedule 7 of GN R509, 2003 were declared to be constitutionally invalid. The above provisions prohibited an adult person to use, possess, purchase, cultivate cannabis for personal consumption and thus was declared as constitutionally invalid on the reasoning that it was against the right to privacy guaranteed under Section 14 of the Constitution.

Applicant State submitted that it is in public interest that the restriction is put for the health, safety and psychological well-being of cannabis users whereas respondent agreed to the invalidation of impugned provision. Further High Court suspended its declaration until parliament corrects the defects as pointed out in its order. Constitutional Court was of the view that High Court was not competent to suspend its declaration as the declaration was not yet confirmed by the Constitutional Court as is required under Article 172(2) of the Constitution of Republic of South Africa. On the question of infringement of right to privacy the Constitutional court found that the right to privacy of adults to use etc. in private was limited by these provisions.

Constitutional Court came to the conclusion that the prohibition on privately involving in any activity which is related to cannabis cultivation by an adult for personal consumption was not in consonance with right to privacy as entrenched in the Constitution and was constitutionally invalid. Since constitutional invalidity declared by High Court was being affirmed by the Constitutional Court this order of invalidity was suspended for the parliament to correct the constitutional defects as pointed by this court in the impugned provision. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development v. Prince, Case CCT 108 of 17, decided on 16-09-2018]

Conference/Seminars/LecturesLaw School News

CONCEPT NOTE: Humans are born with certain basic rights that are recognised in a civilised society. Some rights are inherent and some are incidental to human personality. Right to life, liberty and dignity are basic ones. Citizens, in a society driven by democratic and republican values, constitute a central part in the governance. There are situations where an individual in a free society expects to be free from the shackles of the governance and there comes the expectation of privacy so far as personal, private and intimate affairs are concerned. Many legal systems in the world, including couple of international legal instruments have also documented concerns for privacy, in the personal affairs of the individual. However,  there  exist  two  schools  of  thought,  one  concerning about basic rights of individuals such as food, shelter, livelihood, right to life etc. which recognises the privacy as “elitists” concept and the second, considers it as essential for the “human dignity” and  “human  personality”.  The  “Privacy  Jurisprudence” is a seven decade old and has been highly debated. Earlier Supreme Court rulings in M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra, DM, Delhi (1954) and Kharak Singh v. State of UP (1962), have rejected the right to privacy as fundamental right, under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. However, the legal controversy was put to rest only last year, when a nine-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1 have unanimously agreed that right to privacy is fundamental right under Article 21. The judgement is historic and unprecedented in India. A legal challenge to Aadhar Act, may be decided by the Supreme Court of India, in the light of the said landmark ruling.

The National Seminar, 2018 on “ Right to Privacy in the Contemporary Legal Environment” will have a technical and detailed deliberations on the legal implications of the latest ruling of Supreme Court of India. The National Seminar, 2018 will witness the presence of legal fraternity and the students of law. Several new facets and themes will be explored in the form of research papers to be presented by the participants. National Seminar, 2018 will also witness presentations  and  deliberations  by  the  Experts and Jurists on the subject.

Track 1: Public Law, State and The Privacy

  • Right  to  be  forgotten,  Right  to  be  let  alone  vis-a-vis  Right  to Privacy
  • Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right
  • Right to Privacy in the light of Aadhar Act and the UIDA database
  • Right to Privacy: an “elitists” concept or part of “liberty”?
  • Right to Privacy vs. National Security
  • Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1
  • State Surveillance and Right to Privacy

Track 2: Right to Privacy & Cyberspace

  • Right to Informational Privacy
  • Data Protection Law and Right to Privacy
  • Right to Privacy in the age of Social Networking Sites and Messaging Apps
  • Legal  liability  of  Body  Corporates  under  Information Technology Act, 2000
  • Violation and Breach of Privacy under Information Technology Act, 2000

Track  3:  Right  to Privacy – Marriage, Conjugal Affairs, Intimacy, Reproductive Choices and Sexual Orientation

  • Right to Privacy in the institution of Marriage – Conjugal Affairs and Restitution of Conjugal Rights
  • Privacy and Rights of LGBT people – Legal Concerns and Issues
  • Privacy concerns in Surrogacy, DNA Tests, Reproductive choices and Sexual Orientation
  • Privacy concerns in Live-in Relationship

CALL FOR PAPERS: Research papers, case comment and articles are invited from the academic practitioners, research scholars and the students. The papers should be author’s original work and/or should not be any published work. Co-authorship is allowed but is restricted to only one. Selected research papers, case comments and articles will be published in the form of a Book with ISBN, which may be notified in due course of time to the participants. Publication of papers shall be subject to the approval of the Editorial Board and quality of the papers.

Last date for Abstract submission       –  September 15, 2018

Last date for Full Paper submission    –  October 5, 2018

Last date for Registration & Payment – September 30, 2018

Date of National Seminar, 2018          – October 20, 2018

CONTACT DETAILS: For any queries related to the 2nd National Seminar, 2018,  participants  may  contact following persons on the details given below:

Mr. Ashok P. Wadje (Asstt. Professor of Law) Convener, 2nd National Seminar, 2018 (Contact Number: +91 9650778117)

Mr. Divyanshu Goyal, Student Coordinator, 2nd National Seminar, 2018 (Contact number:+91 9309915776)

For submission of Abstract, Full Paper, Scanned copy of Payment Slip or DD and Registration Form and other queries, email ID is: seminarmnlua@gmail.com

To view the Brochure, click HERE

To download Registration Form, click HERE

For further details, click HERE

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a PIL filed by Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra challenging the decision of the Centre on creating a Social Media Communication Hub (SMCH) on the ground that it was an attempt on snooping the citizen’s social media activities in violation of their Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, Supreme Court has issued a notice against the same.

The Bench comprising of S Abdul Nazeer and Indu Malhotra JJ. had addressed the said petition in which Moitra had accused the government of attempting to invade the privacy of citizens, which eventually violated the Right to Life guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

According to the tender document, the successful bidder will be required “to collect digital media chatter from all core social media platforms as well as digital platforms like news, blogs, and forums”.

Therefore, Supreme Court Bench headed by CJ Dipak Misra on hearing the petition filed earlier, today issued a notice against the “Social Media Communication Hub” that has been proposed by the central government and has sought the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal. The case is listed for further proceeding on 03-08-2018.  [Mahua Moitra v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 697, order dated 13-07-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

On Day 7 of the Aadhaar hearing, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan summed up his submissions before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ. Shyam Divan picked up from where he left on Day 6 i.e. arguing on the affidavit filed by a fieldworker on the Jharkhand NREGA program recounting starvation deaths that occurred in Jharkhand because of Aadhaar linking failures.

Below are the highlights from Day 7 of the hearing:

Submission on affidavit on exclusion of people with leprosy: 

  • Shyam Divan: The issues here pertain to exclusion, death, and dignity. The reports are about extreme situations. SD says that the basis point is that in a democracy, there has to be an element of choice. There can’t be just one method of identification imposed.
  • Chandrachud, J: One thing the Court needs to look at is the level of internet penetration in the country.
  • Shyam Divan:  The PoS machine has a memory, so if the internet fails, the machine is often taken to another place. All Aadhaar can do is stop a very limited kind of misuse (identity fraud), and there are other ways to weed out leakages.
  • Chandrachud, J: The affidavit seems to show that even after Aadhaar, the citizen remains dependant on the PDS dealer. While that argument may not furnish a constitutional ground, but the argument that Aadhaar itself is causing exclusion nay furnish a ground under Article 14.
  • Shyam Divan: Persons who cannot authenticate are treated as “ghosts”, and as mere statistics. He says this cannot meet the tests under Articles 14, 19, and 21. This is especially so because the system is coercive.

Submission on no option to opt out of Aadhaar scheme:

  • Shyam Divan: This is crucial from an informational self-determination point of view. There must be a right to opt-out. (Reads out affidavits from people who have asked to be able to opt-out, on the ground that there was no genuine informed consent at the time of enrolment and a collective affidavit from Meghalaya from people who want to opt-out of Aadhaar.)
  • Chandrachud, J: What is the position in the North-East?
  • Shyam Divan: There are places where the roll-out is low, and they have been exempted.
  • Shyam Divan reads out the affidavit of Rakesh Mohan Goel, a computer industry expert who went and audited enrolment centres. Below are the findings mentioned in the affidavit:
    • Computer Industry people were retaining biometrics and storing them, and the UIDAI had no way of knowing. 
    • The biometrics of Indians are available to private entities, can be and are being stored in logs.
    • Because of the architecture of Aadhaar, UIDAI has very little control over this.
    • There is no way of knowing, after an audit, whether the storage is continuing or has stopped.
  • Shyam Divan: When you part with something as precious as biometrics, there has to be a fiduciary relationship between you and the person taking it. How can you trust a system like this?
  • Chandrachud, J: How are the authentication machines purchased?
  • Shyam Divan: UIDAI has technical specifications, but the purchase is private. The point is that biometric data is easily compromisable. This is a reason why people do not want to be on Aadhaar, and why they should not be *mandated* to get into the system. While some of these leaks can be plugged, the basic design is faulty. In Surat, the biometric data of ration card holders was stored and then used to siphon off.
  • Shyam Divan (Discussing the mechanism of producing artificial fingerprints): The operator’s fingerprints are cloned. When UIDAI found this out, they added iris authentication. However, the hackers then found a way to bypass that as well. Cloning of fingerprints is easy and it’s possible, and it’s been done. What is the integrity of the system, and why should anyone trust this? This is a question of my right to protect my body and my identity. If the system is so insecure, why am I being mandated to authenticate through fingerprints for every transaction? The more the database expands, given that this is a probabilistic system, the more times you will have a match. This is indicative of exclusion, and that the system is saturated, leading to unjustified rejections.
  • Shyam Divan (Reading out Dr Reetika Khera‘s affidavit, who is an economist at IIT Delhi, and works on the NREGA. It speaks about biometric authentication failure at a tribal school, where those whose fingerprints were not recognised by Aadhaar, were not marked present): Firstly, these are not ghosts in the system. They are flesh and blood girls attending the school, and Aadhaar is not recognising them. Secondly, you’re creating records for an entire lifetime, starting from school. Is this not a surveillance society? Thirdly, there is no statutory sanction.
  • Sikri, J: In fact later, the teachers may be hauled up for inflating numbers.

Submission on whether an individual’s body belongs to her or to the State:

  • The question is, in a digital world, how do I exercise control over my body? In a liberal democratic culture, the basic value is the prohibition of slavery, which means that an individual’s body cannot be used for purposes that she does not endorse.
  • If a person exists in flesh and blood, where is the question of denying her anything? This is at the core of Article 21 and the relationship between the individual and the State. In a liberal democratic culture, can the State say that “I will choose to recognise you only in this manner, otherwise you cease to exist”?
  • There is no concept of eminent domain as far as the body is concerned. The body cannot be used as a marker for every service.
  • The State has a legitimate interest in identifying a person, and so there could be a set of limited, narrowly tailored circumstances where you are required to give up fingerprints, such as for a passport or a driving license or a criminal investigation.

Summary of Shyam Divan’s arguments: 

  • Personal autonomy: Are we going to cede complete control of the body to the State? In a digital world, personal autonomy extends to protecting biometrics.
  • Constitutional trust: We have created the State, and now the State trusts us as unworthy unless we cede our biometerics. The Aadhaar program treats the entire nation as presumptively criminal.
  • Rule of law: Look at how this project has been rolled out.
  • Surveillance and privacy
  • Domination of State:  If this program is allowed to roll on unimpeded, think of the domination The State will have over the individual.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s submissions:

  • Kapil Sibal: If the State wants Google to give information, it will have to get a court order. Aadhaar bypasses that safeguard. You have the right to opt-out of Google, FB, Twitter. There is no such right with respect to Aadhaar.
  • Chandrachud, J: This distinction may not be persuasive, because in today’s world, you have only notional consent even with respect to private players.
  • Kapil Sibal: There is an important distinction between the State and Google. There are open source alternatives to Google. And even within Google, I have choices and control. There is also a further qualitative distinction. Google uses your data and that often increases your choice. Aadhaar restricts it.
  • Kapil Sibal: How can Aadhaar Act, 2016 be a money bill?
  • Chandrachud, J: That link comes from the Consolidated Fund of India. (P. Chidambaram to argue on this point later)
  • Kapil Sibal (On deactivation of Aadhaar): Consider what will happen in the time that your Aadhaar is deactivated, and you’re trying to rectify it. This is unimplementable in a polity as large as ours. Think of how this will play out in rural India. He points to the regulation that allows deactivation for “any other reason deemed appropriate.” What kind of power is this? This is the power to cause civil and digital death.”
  • Chandrachud, J: You can’t judge the validity of an act by the potential for abuse.
  • Kapil Sibal: This is about how much power you are giving up to the State. In the information age, it’s not merely about “possibility” any more. It exists. (Reads out an article in the newspaper today that talks about digital payments being pushed to 1 trillion dollars in five years.)
  • Chandrachud, J: How does the Court decide what level of risk is proper or not? Should the Court get into this or should it be left to the legislature?
  • Kapil Sibal: I am not saying that the State will misuse it. But the information is in the public domain.
  • Sikri, J: What information will the bank have when you link your Aadhaar?
  • Kapil Sibal: Aadhaar has been used for banking frauds. Different principles need to be evolved in dealing with digital issues. The principles used to adjudicate other statutes don’t map with accuracy.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5 and Day 6 of the hearing.

Source: twitter.com/gautambhatia88

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a landmark judgment that will remain law for years to come, the 9-judge bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, S.K. Kaul and S.A. Nazeer, JJ has unanimously held:

“The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”

In the 547-pages long judgment, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J writing for himself and on behalf of J.S. Khehar, CJ, R.K. Agrawal and S.A. Nazeer, JJ, said that Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. He added,

“While the legitimate expectation of privacy may vary from the intimate zone to the private zone and from the private to the public arenas, it is important to underscore that privacy is not lost or surrendered merely because the individual is in a public place. Privacy attaches to the person since it is an essential facet of the dignity of the human being”

On the aspect of Data Protection, he said:

“Informational privacy is a facet of the right to privacy. The dangers to privacy in an age of information can originate not only from the state but from non-state actors as well. We commend to the Union Government the need to examine and put into place a robust regime for data protection. The creation of such a regime requires a careful and sensitive balance between individual interests and legitimate concerns of the state like protecting national security, preventing and investigating crime, encouraging innovation and the spread of knowledge, and preventing the dissipation of social welfare benefits.”

He also addressed the issue of rights of the LGBT community in Suresh Kumar Koushal v NAZ foundation, (2014) 1 SCC 1, where it was held that the prosecution of a miniscule fraction of the country’s population in 150 years cannot be made sound basis for declaring that section 377 IPC ultra vires the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution. Stating that the guarantee of constitutional rights does not depend upon their exercise being favourably regarded by majoritarian opinion, he said:

“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform. The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.”

All the remaining judges wrote separate but concurring judgments. Chelameswar, J, in his judgement, said:

“All liberal democracies believe that the State should not have unqualified authority to intrude into certain aspects of human life and that the authority should be limited by parameters constitutionally fixed. Fundamental rights are the only constitutional firewall to prevent State’s interference with those core freedoms constituting liberty of a human being.”

He, however, added that every right has limitations and the options canvassed for limiting the right to privacy should include: (a) Article 14 type reasonableness enquiry; (b) limitation as per the express provisions of Article 19; (c) a just, fair and reasonable basis (that is, substantive due process) for limitation per Article 21; and (d) a just, fair and reasonable standard per Article 21 plus the amorphous standard of ‘compelling state interest’, the last one being the highest standard of scrutiny.

Bobde, J, in his judgment, explained the test of privacy and said that privacy may be understood as the antonym of publicity. Giving examples, he wrote:

“taking one or more persons aside to converse at a whisper even in a public place would clearly signal a claim to privacy, just as broadcasting one’s words by a loudspeaker would signal the opposite intent.”

Nariman, J, discussed the law laid down in ADM, Jabalpur v. Sivakant Shukla, (1976) 2 SCC 521 and said that after this judgment it will be clear that the majority judgment in the said case is no longer good law and that Khanna, J.’s dissent is the correct version of the law. He noted that:

“the majority opinion was done away with by the Constitution’s 44th Amendment two years after the judgment was delivered. By that Amendment, Article 359 was amended to state that where a proclamation of emergency is in operation, the President may by order declare that the right to move any Court for the enforcement of rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution may remain suspended for the period during which such proclamation is in force, excepting Articles 20 and 21. On this score also, it is clear that the right of privacy is an inalienable human right which inheres in every person by virtue of the fact that he or she is a human being.”

On the importance of declaring privacy as a fundamental right, he said:

“Statutory law can be made and also unmade by a simple Parliamentary majority. In short, the ruling party can, at will, do away with any or all of the protections contained in the statutes. Fundamental rights, on the other hand, are contained in the Constitution so that there would be rights that the citizens of this country may enjoy despite the governments that they may elect.”

Sapre, J, wrote the right to privacy emanates from the two expressions of the Preamble namely, “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship” and “Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual“ and also emanating from Article 19 (1)(a) which gives to every citizen “a freedom of speech and expression” and further emanating from Article 19(1)(d) which gives to every citizen “a right to move freely throughout the territory of India” and lastly, emanating from the expression “personal liberty” under Article 21. He also added:

“the “right to privacy” has multiple facets, and, therefore, the same has to go through a process of case-to-case development as and when any citizen raises his grievance complaining of infringement of his alleged right in accordance with law.”

SK Kaul, J, on ADM Jabalpur judgment, said that it was an aberration in the constitutional jurisprudence of our country and it should be overruled as there is

“the desirability of burying the majority opinion ten fathom deep, with no chance of resurrection.”

Stating that declaring right to privacy as a fundamental right is a call of today, he said:

“In an era where there are wide, varied, social and cultural norms and more so in a country like ours which prides itself on its diversity, privacy is one of the most important rights to be protected both against State and non-State actors and be recognized as a fundamental right.”

All the judges unanimously overruled the law laid down in  M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra and Kharak Singh v. State of U.P and said that all the decisions after the Kharak Singh case where it has been held that Privacy is fundamental right, lay down the correct position in law. [Justice KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 996, decided on 24.08.2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: In the landmark verdict, the 9-judge Constitution bench has declared that the Right to Privacy is a part of Article 21 & Part III of the Constitution. CJI Khehar, who had not authored the unanimous judgment but read it before a jampacked courtroom, said that MP Sharma case, Kharak Singh Case & any other judgments that say that privacy is not a fundamental right are overruled.

The bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, S.K. Kaul and S.A. Nazeer, JJ is hearing the issue of ‘right to privacy’ being a part of fundamental rights or not after the 5-judge bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud & S.A. Nazeer, JJ said that in the light of the rulings by the 8-judge and 6-judge benches in M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra and Kharak Singh v. State of U.P., holding that Right to Privacy is not a fundamental right, a larger bench needs to decide the issue.

Read the highlights of the hearing, here.

Read the details from the hearing, here.

Detailed report to follow.

OP. ED.

The 9-judge bench Right to Privacy hearing came to end and the whole country is now waiting for the judgment to be out, some in anticipation of their rights to be recognized and some hoping for a decision that will act as a firm standing for the Aadhaar scheme. Whichever side the Supreme Court picks, one cannot deny the fact that this 6-day long hearing was one of the biggest hearings that the World has witnessed lately and whatever these 9-judges decide, is going to be a law for a long time.  To put things into perspective, this 9-judge bench was formed in the year 2017 to decide the correctness of a law that was laid down in the year 1954. Stakes are high and neither of the parties took it lightly. While some arguments gained applaud, some managed to raise a few eyebrows. Let’s look back at some of the important highlights from the hearing.

  • Privacy as a Fundamental Right without defining contours

Petitioners argued that Privacy is the very essence of liberty. It is not only a fundamental right but an inalienable right. MP Sharma and Kharak Singh cases deal with only single aspect of privacy and the Court needs to declare a broader Right to Privacy as a Fundamental right. If that is not done, all other rights will have no meaning. Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J showed some concern over the possible effects of declaring Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right without defining any contours. He said that it might make the Naz Foundation judgment on Section 377 IPC vulnerable.

  • Dark Web doesn’t justify State actions

S.A. Bobde, J quizzed the petitioners on dark web to which the Petitioners responded by saying that there is no denying that 80% of the internet is Dark Web but that cannot justify State’s actions in violation of privacy. This cannot have any bearing on the recognition of the right.

  • No Fundamental Right to Privacy = Misuse by State

Petitioners put forth the concerns over possible misuse of power by the Government if Right to Privacy is not recognized as Fundamental Right. It was contended that in this digital age, if not in Aadhaar, a data protection and privacy question would have risen in another case. The delay in recognizing Right to Privacy by the Courts has resulted into the collection of the biometric data of all the citizens of the country in the name of Aadhaar. It was argued that the Government suspended the rights of the people during emergency and it wants to do the same today even in the absence of emergency.

  • Privacy is vague; has many aspects

State based it’s argument of the vagueness of the definition of Privacy. It was contended that since there is no clear definition of privacy, it cannot be elevated to Fundamental Right. It was also submitted that most of the aspects of privacy were already protected under Article 21 of the Constitution and that there was no need to declare Privacy as a fundamental right and asked the Court to define privacy on cases-to-case basis. It was argued that privacy was only a civil right and such rights were deliberately left out by the framers of the Constitution.

  • State’s notion of Privacy in a Poor or Developing nation like India

Centre argued that there should be no fundamental right to privacy in a developing nation. State of Maharashtra also took a strong stand against fundamental right to privacy and said Aadhaar is important for subsidy schemes and if asked to choose between subsidized food and private information coming out, people will choose food.

  • Privacy norms in other Countries

State argued that there were different norms of privacy in different countries and India’s definition of privacy is much different. One example of this difference that was quoted before the Court was of Public Display of Affection that was allowed in the US, to which Dr. D. Y. Chandrachud responded by saying that this means that Indians were more private and needed right to privacy.

  • Effect of recognizing Fundamental Right to Privacy on existing laws

State showed it’s apprehension towards the possible effect of declaring Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right to Privacy by saying that there are Rules that say that compound walls can only be three feet or so and the Court will be flooded with the cases challenging such laws. J Chelameswar, J asked the State to calm down and said that declaring privacy as a fundamental right will not mean that every regulation will be struck down.

  • Right to be left alone

State submitted that privacy was nothing but a formal name for right to be left alone and that right has already been recognized as a part of liberty.

  • States in favour of Fundamental Right to Privacy

States of Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala and Puducherry argued in favour of fundamental right to privacy and said that there can be no liberty without privacy. Kapil Sibal, appearing for 4 out of 5 States, in rejoinder said that he had little faith on the Parliament and that the Court should decide the matter.

  • Aadhaar vis-à-vis Data Protection

Even though the Court had made it clear that it will only decide the issue relating to Right to Privacy and will not go into the merits of Aadhaar, State defended the Aadhaar Scheme during the hearing. This resulted into questioning by the Court on the Data Protection measures under the Aadhaar Act, 2016. State replied by saying that Section 29 of the Act prohibits disclosure of core biometrics. The Court seemed unimpressed and said that a robust mechanism was required.

  • Aadhaar’s survival chances

While the Court said that it will give a comprehensive judgment on right to privacy for the conceptual clarity of the nation, it also hinted that the judgment will not have a major impact on the Aadhaar Scheme. Upon witnessing the apprehension of the State, R.F. Nariman, J said that the Court was not saying that it will repeal Aadhaar. It will try to balance Aadhaar with right to privacy. All said and done, though there is strong change that the Supreme Court might recognize Right to Privacy, the Aadhaar Scheme, that prompted this great debate, will survive.

 

Read the detailed submissions of both the sides here.

Also, here is a glimpse of how the Supreme Court has seen the Right to Privacy in the last 60 years and why a 9-judge bench had to step in to decide the issue.

 

Hot Off The PressNews

The 9-judge bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, S.K. Kaul and S.A. Nazeer, JJ is hearing the issue of ‘right to privacy’ since 19.07.2017 and today was the 4th day of hearing. Petitioners had already concluded their arguments on 20.07.2017. Here are the 15 biggest takeaways from the Union and States’ submissions till now:

  1. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal: Privacy is not an absolute right. Will never be. The Court will have to strike a balance. You should not lay down the law but just to hold the existence of the inalienable inherent right.
  2. Attorney General KK Venugopal: Privacy can be one of the species of personal liberty. This right of privacy consists of a large number of sub-species. All these sub species cannot be elevated to the level of a fundamental right.
  3. Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J: If we say privacy is not a Fundamental Right at all it would be a blanket sanction of anything the State can do.
  4. It’s preposterous to state that India will become totalitarian because of Aadhaar. Privacy claims require better priority in developed countries. In a developing country there should be no Fundamental Right to privacy.
  5. Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J: Privacy is not an elitist concern and it is equally applicable to the large masses. For example if State wants forced sterilization on slum dwellers for population control among that group, perhaps only privacy claim may stand in the way.
  6. Attorney General KK Venugopal: World Bank has said that something like Aadhaar should be followed by all countries. Article 21 includes right to live with dignity I.e also to basic needs such as food reasonable environment, suitable accommodation etc. An Act passed with those salutary objects cannot be defeated on claims to privacy.
  7. J. Chelameswar, J: There is not data protection n Aadhaar. The moment you put fingerprint whole world has the data access.
  8. Attorney General KK Venugopal: Section 29 of the Act provides for prohibition of disclosure of core biometrics.
  9.  Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J: Where is the protection for the mobile number? Why medical history is excluded from definition of demographic info and why they are not protected? There is no robust data protection mechanism.
  10. S.A. Bobde and R.F. Nariman, JJ (To Tushar Mehta appearing for UIDIA) : So you have enacted this to protect privacy! Then why are you disputing the right.
  11. Attorney General KK Venugopal:The very fact that there is an Act passed to protect privacy means there is no Fundamental Rights.
  12. Senior Advocate C.A. Sundaram: There is no unambiguous definition of privacy to be crystallized as a right
  13. CJI and S.A. Bobde, J: Life, liberty and dignity are also not defined but they are all Fundamental Rights.
  14. Senior Advocate C.A. Sundaram: Law is set of rules by which society interacts. There are NDMC rules that compound walls can only be three feet. If privacy becomes Fundamental Right, all cases challenging such laws will come before the Court. Even if the bench were to hold the right, it will have to define it to some extent. Every Government action has an impact on privacy, therefore, a broad constitutional right to privacy must not be laid down.
  15. R.F. Nariman, J: We are going to consider all aspects and give a comprehensive judgment for conceptual clarity for the nation.

Looking for a cheat sheet for petitioners’ submissions? Click here.

Read the detailed submissions of both the sides here.

Also, here is a glimpse of how the Supreme Court has seen the Right to Privacy in the last 60 years and why a 9-judge bench had to step in to decide the issue.

Hot Off The PressNews

On 24.07.2017, it was notified that the Constitution Bench will not be sitting on 25.07.2017 in the light of the swearing in ceremony of the newly elected President. President-elect Ram Nath Kovind will be sworn in as the 14th President of India by the Chief Justice of India, Justice Jagdish singh Khehar and all the Courts will sit after the conclusion of the ceremony i.e. post-lunch.

The 9-judge constitution bench that is scheduled to hear the submissions of the Union of India will resume sitting on 26.07.2017.  Petitioners have already concluded there arguments.

Click here to read the 12 point cheat sheet to all that has happened in the case till date.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: While the issue relating to ‘right to privacy’ is under consideration before a 9-judge bench, the Centre today told a 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, Dr. A.K. Sikri, Amitava Roy, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagouda, JJ  in the matter relating to Whatsapp data sharing with it’s parent company Facebook, that the data of users is integral to the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution and it would come out with regulations to protect it.

The submission of the Central Government is important in the light of the ongoing Aadhaar proceedings that prompted the 5-judge bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud & Abdul Nazeer, JJ to refer the ‘right to privacy’ matter to a 9-judge bench. The petitioners have vehemently argued before the 9-judge bench that ‘right to privacy’ should be declared as a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution. The Union of India will be making it’s submissions in the matter on Tuesday. ‘Right to privacy’ has not been specifically recognised in the Constitution as a fundamental right and that is why the Court has interpreted the said right differently in different case.

Source: HT

Hot Off The PressNews

The 9-judge bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, S.K. Kaul and S.A. Nazeer, JJ is hearing the issue of ‘right to privacy’ since 19.07.2017. Here is a 12-point cheat sheet to the arguments advanced by the Petitioners:

  1. Senior Advocate Gopal Subaranium: Rights under Articles 14,19, 21 & 25 have an element of personal choice i.e. privacy. Privacy is not only a fundamental right, but an inalienable one.
  2. Senior Advocate Shyam Divan: Right to privacy is a global concern of the day. In a digital age, the dangers of not reading the right as a Part III of the Constitution right may be aggravated.
  3. Senior Advocate Arvind Datar: The proposition that privacy is not guaranteed under Constitution is not the law laid down by the MP Sharma & Kharak Singh cases.
  4. DY Chandrachud, J: If we just hold privacy is a right, Naz judgment may become vulnerable. (Also read, how this decision might affect the LGBT community)
  5. Senior Advocate Anand Grover: Please do not define privacy as it needs to be defined on case to case basis. You may, however, indicate the facets of privacy.
  6. DY Chandrachud, J: If a Government has a digitalized list of convicted criminals for its algorithmic analytics predictive models, etc it may not be a violation because state may have a legitimate interest. But it may be a violation if a whole segment of a population is tracked and profiled similarly.
  7. Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya: Given the information explosion in the digital age, if not in Aadhaar, a data protection and privacy question would have risen in another case and perhaps before a 9 judge bench.
  8. A. Bobde, J: What about dark web? Isn’t 80% of internet dark?
  9. Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya: But State cannot be a proponent of a dark web. State must first respect privacy. State has an obligation to protect citizens digital identity as much as physical identity. No less. The declaration that privacy is a fundamental right itself is the first step towards fulfilling that obligation of oversight on executive.
  10. Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya: If you had declared the right to privacy as a fundamental right 15 years ago, the State would not have done what they have done with Aadhaar i.e. collect the biometric data of the entire citizenry in an executive fiat.
  11. Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora: Right to Privacy is everywhere, even under Articles 17, 24 and 25.  You may sometimes be compelled to disclose certain information but you do have a right.
  12. Petitioners have concluded their arguments. Court will hear Centre’s submission of Tuesday i.e. 25.07.2017.

Also, here is a glimpse of how the Supreme Court has seen the Right to Privacy in the last 60 years and why a 9-judge bench had to step in to decide the issue.