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Puttaswamy’ and the fading promise of a right

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Indian Constitution- historical underpinning, evolution, features, amendments, FRs etc

 

Source: The Hindu

Directions: Important for both prelims and mains, questions from right to privacy have been asked in UPSC before.

Context:

  • Marking five years since a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India delivered a crucial judgment in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd.) vs Union of India.

 

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd.) vs Union of India case(2017):

  • It formally recognised the right to privacy as being a fundamental right stemming from the right to life and personal liberty, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • While the right to privacy is intrinsic to an individual’s ability to exercise bodily autonomy, it is still not an “absolute right”.

 

Issues still persist

  • Data security breaches which result in the loss and theft of personal, sensitive data have not reduced in terms of measurable frequency or their impact.
  • Procurement of personal information: Any person or business within and outside India can procure personal information.
  • Usage of data by companies: Data is used most often by some legitimate advertising agencies, unscrupulous telemarketing firms, and cybercriminals.
  • Use of Pegasus spyware on Indian nationals: Alleged use of the Pegasus spyware in India.
  • Access to VPN services: The recent interventions by the Government which aim to restrict Indian nationals from subscribing to and accessing VPN services.
  • The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2021: despite how flawed it may have been, was withdrawn earlier this month after an unnecessarily long period of stagnation.

 

Conclusion:

  • Puttaswamy’s judgment has missed the mark quite spectacularly for the objective that was sought.
  • It represents a foregone opportunity to protect the rights of Indian citizens while ensuring all of the checks and balances necessary to prevent Government overreach and abuse of power.

 

Insta Links:

Right to privacy

 

Mains Link:

Q. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in light of the latest judgment of the Supreme Court on the Right to Privacy. (UPSC 2017)

 

Prelims Links:

  • Right to Privacy
  • Article 21
  • Puttaswamy’s judgment
  • Fundamental rights

Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty. Which of the following in the Constitution of India correctly and appropriately implies the above statement? (UPSC 2018)

a. Article 14 and the provisions under the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution

b. Article 17 and the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV

c. Article 21 and the freedoms guaranteed in Part III

d. Article 24 and the provisions under the 44th Amendment to the Constitution

Ans: (c)

Justification:

  • The right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 and the freedoms guaranteed in Part III of the Indian Constitution.
  • Right to Privacy has been declared a Fundamental Right by the Supreme Court in the case of Justice S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union of India.