Fundamental Rights which are enshrined in the Part III of the Indian
Constitution have come into existence to protect the rights of the citizens and
which provide them with a sense of security and freedom, these rights prevent
the establishment of authoritarian and dictatorial rule in the country. Each and
every person has the right to live their life with liberty and dignity. One of
the most important fundamental right is the Article 21 of the Indian
Article 21of The Constitution of India, 1949:
Right to life and Personal
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to
procedure established by law.
Art.21 is also known as the heart of the constitution, this right is granted to
citizens of India as well as the non-citizens. This fundamental right not only
talks about life and liberty but it also covers wide variety of rights. The
interpretation of the term Personal Liberty
has been discussed in many
cases and finally had a wider interpretation in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union
of India and Anr
(1978) here the Delhi Regional officer ordered the
petitioner Maneka Gandhi to surrender her passport within 7 days without giving
her proper reason for the same.
The Supreme Court held that 'Personal Liberty'
covered variety of rights and that such right could only be taken away according
to the procedure established by law which had to be just, fair and reasonable
and not arbitrary in nature. Personal liberty means various rights that provide
for personal liberty of a person.
The court also held that right to live is not
merely a physical right but includes within its purview the right to live with
human dignity. Mere right to live is not sufficient for any person to live
peacefully but every person should the right to dignity which includes having
access to the basic essentials of life as well as having sovereignty over one's
own choices. Right to dignity means having fair wages, clear air, right to food
and other basic necessities.
In Article 21 the term Right to Life
includes right to participate in
activities, right to tradition, heritage, culture, livelihood and so on. One of
the most important right to live also includes Right to Privacy
. Each and
every human being would want some privacy in their life. No one would want
others to intrude in their private space and disturb the happiness and peace.
This right of privacy was not granted to the citizens for a long time and there
had been a lot of debate going on about the same, there is no explicit provision
in the constitution which emphasises about the right to privacy. Even the data
we save in our mobile phones and laptops are also our private data which needs
to be protected, if the data is stolen our right to privacy is lost and
fundamental right is infringed. Unprotected data causes a disturbance in the
right to privacy.
The discussion about the right to privacy first came up in the case of Kharak
Singh V. The State of U.P
.(1962) Kharak Singh's house was visited by the
police at strange hours, frequently waking him up from his sleep, it was held by
the court that this infringed his 'right to life' but however court dismissed
the petitioner's allegation that the shadowing of chronic criminals infringed on
his right to privacy as at that time the right to privacy was not recognised as
the Fundamental Right.
However, with the case of R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil
(1994)" where this case prepared the way for subsequent decisions on
the Right to Privacy, paving the way for it to be included in the Fundamental
Rights given under Part III of the Constitution.
However, there are reasonable restrictions for this right about which it was
held by the Supreme Court in the case of Mr. X v. Hospital Z
(1998) here the appellant Mr. X was tested
positive for HIV about which the doctors informed someone else without his
consent because of which marriage of Mr. X was called off, the appellant
approached the court stating that his right to privacy was violated.
here held that this fact has to been known to the person whom he marries as this
fact would affect her life as well as it being a communicable disease and that
there is no violation to the 'Right of Privacy' of Mr. X.
Right to privacy was just a mere right before it was made a fundamental right.
In the landmark case K.S. Puttaswamy V. Union of India
which was passed in the
year 2017, Right to Privacy was recognised as Fundamental Right and was then
enshrined in Article 21 as a Right to life and personal liberty.
K.S. Puttaswamy v/s Union Of India :
K.S. Puttaswamy was the appellant in this case and the respondent was the Union
of India and Others. Puttaswamy was a retired 91-year-old Madras High court
judge. In 2012, he questioned the recent Aadhaar scheme, which indicated that
access to government services and benefits should be made mandatory for a kind
of standardized biometrics-based identification card.
Three judge bench
comprising of justices Chelameswar, Arvindh Bobde, and C. Nagappan, on 11th
August 2015 ordered that the case should be referred to another larger bench to
determine the validity of decisions taken by other judges in other cases to
decide whether Right to Privacy should be made a Fundamental Right and whether
it should be included in Article 21 of right to life and personal liberty.
Later the case was passed on to a 5 judge bench, the constitution bench agreed
that there is a need for a larger bench and it was referred to a nine judge
bench of the supreme court which comprised of: Abhay Manohar Sapre, Chief
Justice Khehar, DY Chandrachud, Sanjay Krishan Kaul, R.L. Agarwal, Jasti
Chelameshwar, Abdul Nazeer, S.A Bobde, Nariman on 18th July 2017. Various
issues were debated and a very critical analysis was carried out to decide
whether the Right to Privacy should be included in article 21.
Judges held that because there is enormous technical advancement both state and
non-state factors may be at risk of loss of privacy, also it was held that an
Individual is very concerned with his / her personal Data, they control their
data and what to be posted on social media what to be displayed to the public
and what to hide from outsiders, so unauthorized use of such information by
anyone else except to whom that information belongs to may lead to violation of
On 24th August 2017 the nine-judge bench of India passed a unanimous historic
Judgement with concurring opinions. Part III of the Indian constitution lays
down different articles for the protection of one's Fundamental Rights. The
judgement stated privacy to be an integral component of Part III.
recognized that the right to privacy should also be a key element of Fundamental
Rights and should be included in Article 21 of right to life and personal
liberty. In this judgement the decisions given in the case of Kharak Singh V.
The State of U.P.
(1962) and MP Sharma V. Satish Chandra
Justice Chandrachud in the opinion, he concentrated on the need to inculcate
data protection in the sphere of 'Right to Privacy' as no one would want to risk
their privacy at the expense of anything and that a person's data is at stake in
the digital economy. He also stated that right to privacy is a key element which
need to be included in Part III of the fundamental rights.
Justice Nariman in his opinion held that privacy can be divided into
non-interference with individual and informational privacy which takes
possession of unauthorised uses of personal information.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the government grants this right to the
citizens of the country to enjoy their privacy but one's privacy should not
cause any disturbance to the society or any other person and that's the reason
there are some reasonable restrictions. The reasonable restrictions are not just
pertaining to the 'ight to Privacy
but to whole of Art 21 of the Indian
Constitution. A person can be deprived of 'Right to Life' or 'Personal Liberty'
only by the procedure established by law.
Day by day as we move ahead there are a lot of rights which are becoming a part
of Art 21. The right to education which was a Directive Principles of State
Policy which has later become a part of Right to Life
and Personal Liberty
. The Supreme Court has referred to
this right as the "heart and soul" of the Indian Constitution, and it definitely
is representing the most basic needs of human life.
- India Const. art 21, amended by the Constitution (eighty sixth amendment)
- Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India and Anr, 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621
- Kharak singh V. The state of U.P, 1963 AIR 1295, 1964 SCR (1) 332
- R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1995 AIR 264, 1994 SCC (6) 632
- Mr. X v. Hospital Z (1998), AIR 1995 SC 495
- Justice K.S. Puttaswamy V. Union Of India and Ors, (2017) 10 SCC 1
- M.P. Sharma And Others vs Satish Chandra, 1954 AIR 300, 1954 SCR 1077
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Sai Sindhura Kongara
Authentication No: FB203881221595-08-0222