Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India judgment, popularly known as the Right to Privacy judgment is undoubtedly one of the landmark judgment of present times. The 9 judge bench unanimously held the Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right implied under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. In this Article, I will open up my apprehensions on this particular judgment.
One would agree that in a given circumstances we take a call about future based on at least a faint idea of what is going to happen. However, in this judgment, it seems to me that the judges have taken the call based on their fear about future rather than a clarity of way forward. I do support the Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right but the high degree of uncertainty around its implementation which is the result of lack of clarity is what pinches me the most. If we see previous interpretations of Article 21 such as Right to clean environment or Right to go abroad, one can say that these interpretation do not face too much of an explanation to be understood. The Right to Privacy is also too wide a right to be incorporated in Article 21 as it itself is capable of giving rise to a number of rights as hinted in the judgment itself.
My second apprehension about its derivation from Article 21. It is here where I wish that the constitution had the Right to Property and privacy was protected by creating several aspects of identity as individual property. The Parliament repealed the Right to Property without much of an explanation. Even Economic Survey pointed out this ambivalent attitude of the State towards property as an area which needs reform. On one hand we embrace the capitalist form of development and on the other hand, there is no Fundamental Right to Property. If today such a right was present, the Supreme Court or the Legislature might have utilized it to bring the Right to Privacy under the ambit of Fundamental Rights.
The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to frame provision detailing the Right to Privacy. Right to Privacy is essential, but its impact would be properly assessed only after we have a detailed provision and working of the Right to Privacy in hand.