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Legal Eye on Puttaswamy V. Union of India - Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right

Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right Law Optional UPSC

WHY ARE WE KEEN ABOUT THIS ? Simply because majority of questions which appears in UPSC LAW OPTIONAL question is from contemporary legal developments which occur around yourself. So come let’s see what happens around us ! WAKE UP !!!!




  • ‘Privacy’ is “the condition or state of being free from public attention to intrusion into or interference with one’s acts or decisions”[1]OR

  • ' the right to be let alone’

  • YOU SAY “ leave me alone” – Yes !!! it is privacy at its simplest.

2. WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO GUARANTEE THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY : What seems to be essential to privacy is the power to seclude oneself and keep others from intruding it in any way.

FORMS OF INTRUSIONS : These intrusions may be physical or visual, and may take any of several forms including peeping over one’s shoulder to eavesdropping directly or through instruments, devices or technological aids.

3. COME ON ! WHY THIS PRIVACY IS BURNING OUT NOW ? It’s all because of AADHAR SCHEME – which has our biometric and associated data stored with UIDAI.

  • Attorney general of India, while defending the Aadhaar project, argued that the Constitution does not include within it a fundamental right to privacy based on MP Sharma v. Satish Chandra(1954) and Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh(1962)[2] = which had held Constitution of India does not specifically protect the right to privacy.

4. THE LANDMARK DECISION IN 2017 : Puttuswamy v. Union of India- A nine-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India affirmed the right to privacy as a Fundamental Right under Part III of the Constitution.

5. FR under which Article? Article 21. Why ?

  • Privacy is intrinsic to the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and will be included under part III of the Constitution.”

  • Privacy is the constitutional core of human dignity. Privacy ensures the fulfilment of dignity. C.J.Khehar

6. What this case has done to past judicial legacy ?

  • Overruled the MP Sharma and Kharak Singh case.

  • Overruled the ADM Jabalpur case – which allowed for fundamental rights to be suspended during an Emergency.

  • Questioned the Judicial reasoning in Naz Foundation Case - implied that the “minuscule minority” LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community was not entitled to the right to privacy.

7. WHAT PRIVACY HOLDS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW ? Art.12 UDHR +Art.17 –ICCPR : Guarantees Right to Privacy.[3]

8. VARIOUS DIMENSIONS OF PRIVACY : It includes bodily integrity, personal autonomy, informational self-determination, protection from State surveillance, dignity, confidentiality, compelled speech, freedom to dissent or move[4] or think.

Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right

DEBATE IT NOW ! IS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO PRIVACY IS ABSOLUTE ? No. The court held that privacy is not an absolute right.

RESTRICTIONS CAN BE INTRODUCED: The government can introduce a law which “intrudes” into privacy for public and legitimate state reasons. But a person can challenge this law in any of the constitutional courts of the land — the Supreme Court or the State High Courts — for violation of his fundamental right to privacy.​


[1]BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (Bryan Garner, ed.) 3783 (2004)

[2]M.P. Sharma & Others v. Satish Chandra & Others, AIR 1954 SC 300 and Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. & Others, AIR 1963 SC 1295, (both decisions of Constitution Bench of Eight and Six Judges respectively).

[3]Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, both legally protect persons against the “arbitrary interference” with one’s privacy, family, home, correspondence, honour and reputation.

[4]Maneka Gandhi Vs. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248 :Person’s right takes within its sweep the right to travel abroad.

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