The right to privacy in India was recognized as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union of India And Ors in 2017. This judgment held that the right to privacy is protected under Article 21 and Part III of the Indian Constitution, which deals with fundamental rights. The scope of fundamental rights in India, as enshrined in Articles 12 to 35, includes rights such as equality before the law, freedom of speech and expression, and protection against exploitation.
In the context of the right to privacy, the Supreme Court has established a three-pronged test for any encroachment of Article 21 rights: legality (through an existing law), necessity, and proportionality. This means that any infringement on the right to privacy must be justified by a compelling state interest and must be proportional to the objective sought to be achieved.
Some key aspects of the right to privacy in India include:
- Protection of personal information and data: The right to privacy encompasses the protection of an individual’s personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.
- Safeguarding individual autonomy: The right to privacy upholds an individual’s autonomy in making personal decisions, such as those related to family life, marriage, procreation, and sexual orientation.
- Balancing state interests: While the right to privacy is a fundamental right, it is not absolute and may be subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of national security, public order, or other compelling state interests.
- Evolving jurisprudence: The scope of the right to privacy in India continues to evolve through various judgments and interpretations by the Supreme Court, which has expanded the ambit of Article 21 to include the right to privacy.
In conclusion, the recognition of the right to privacy as a fundamental right in India has significant implications for the protection of individual autonomy, personal information, and the balance between state interests and individual rights. The evolving jurisprudence on this issue will continue to shape the scope and application of the right to privacy in the country.