QUESTION | “Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India” Elucidate this statement in the light of the decision of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India.
IMPORTANCE OF THIS QUESTION | This question was asked in 2019 UPSC Law Optional Mains under compulsory part, paper 1, section A .
How to answer this question
1. It is completely a question based on single judgment thus read and understand the judgment before venturing this question.
2. Understand the statement given and start explaining it with the help of the judgment
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ANSWER I Nine judge bench of the Supreme Court passed a historic judgment in the case of J. K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, where it was held that “Right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of life and life liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.
The sudden turn | In this unanimous decision, the court over-ruled the judgments in case of MP Sharma and Kharak Singh cases which stated the privacy is not a fundamental right.
Budding stage for right to privacy | In People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India,(1996) the Supreme Court held that telephone tapping by government is a violation of Article 21 as privacy forms a part of life to life and personal liberty and it cannot be taken away except by the procedure established by law.
Importance and facets of right to privacy | Privacy is an inalienable right inhering in the very personality of human beings and privacy includes the right to be left alone, freedom of thought, freedom to dissent, bodily integrity, informational self- determination.
The following conclusions were made in J. Puttaswamy’s judgment
a) The right of privacy is a fundamental right.
b) It is a right which protects the inner sphere of the individual from interference from both state and non-state actors and allows the individuals to make autonomous life choices.
c) Right to privacy cannot be denied even if there is a miniscule fraction of the population which is affected. As only a miniscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders and thus, there cannot be any basis for declaring Section 377 of IPC as ultra vires Article 14, 15 and 21.
d) The bench affirms the LGBT rights and disagrees with the decision given in Suresh Koushal v. Naz Foundation.
e) Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. Personal choices governing a way of life are intrinsic to privacy. Privacy protects heterogeneity and recognises the plurality and diversity of our culture.
Right to privacy was rightly included as part of right to life because without privacy one cannot enjoy one’s life at the fullest. That too living in this digital era makes privacy a huge question, therefore due to change in nature of the society we live in, it demands a natural right to privacy .