A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the right to privacy was indeed a fundamental right.
The verdict is being seen as a huge setback to the Centre’s attempts to make Aadhaar compulsory to avail government schemes and various other measures.
Speaking after the verdict, noted lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, said that the matter will now go to a smaller bench, which will examine the link of right to privacy to Aadhaar.
Bhushan said, “It’s not clear whether a citizen can refuse to give his biometric details while applying for Aadhaar card. But it’s indeed a huge setback for the government.”
A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar ruled that right to privacy is protected intrinsically as part of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Others members of the bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, S K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer also shared the same view.
The nine judges unanimously overruled the two earlier judgements of the apex court that right to privacy is not protected under the Constitution.
The bench overruled the M P Sharma verdict of 1950 and that of Kharak Singh of 1960.
The judgement in the Kharak Singh case was pronounced by eight judges and in M P Sharma it was delivered by six judges.
Justice Khehar, who read the operative portion of the judgement, said the subsequent verdicts pronounced after M P Sharma and Kharak Singh have laid down the correct position of the law.
Before pronouncing the judgement, the CJI said that among the nine judges some of them have authored different orders.
Also inputs with PTI