"Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Another v Union of India and Others" is a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of India, primarily dealing with the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the broader issue of the right to privacy. Here is a detailed summary:
- Petitioners: Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retired) and others.
- Respondent: Union of India and Others.
- Context: The petition was filed challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme, which involved collecting biometric data and issuing a unique identification number to Indian residents.
1. Right to Privacy: Whether there is a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution.
2. Aadhaar's Validity: The constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and its mandates.
3. Data Protection and Privacy: Concerns regarding data security, surveillance, and the potential misuse of personal information collected under Aadhaar.
Supreme Court's Judgement
- Recognition of Privacy as a Fundamental Right: The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that the right to privacy is a fundamental right protected under the Indian Constitution. It is intrinsic to the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and other freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
- Constitutional Validity of Aadhaar: The Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme but with significant restrictions and clarifications to protect individual privacy.
- Restrictions on Aadhaar Usage: The Court struck down certain provisions of the Aadhaar Act and regulations that it found excessive and disproportionate. For example, it ruled that Aadhaar is not mandatory for opening bank accounts, getting mobile connections, or for school admissions.
- Data Protection Measures: The judgement emphasised the importance of data protection and privacy and called for a robust legal framework to safeguard these rights.
- Privacy as a Fundamental Right: The judgement is historic for officially recognizing privacy as a fundamental right, influencing various aspects of laws and policies concerning personal liberty, freedom of expression, dignity, and personal autonomy.
- Impact on Government Policies: The ruling had a direct impact on the implementation of government policies and programs that require handling of personal data.
- Guidance for Future Legislation: The judgement set the stage for future laws on data protection and privacy, emphasising the need for balancing state interests with individual rights.
"Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Another v Union of India and Others" is a cornerstone in the jurisprudence of India's constitutional law, profoundly impacting not just the Aadhaar scheme, but also setting a precedent for the protection of privacy in the digital age. The case marks a significant shift in the understanding and application of fundamental rights in the context of modern technology and data-driven governance.