Free Press Journal

Right to privacy: Two cases Supreme Court will look to decide privacy a fundamental right


The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether privacy is a fundamental right under the Indian constitution. The bench will revisit the question of privacy 5 decades after the Apex court decided that privacy is not a basic right for citizens. If the bench decides that it is a fundamental right then the issue, then a five-judge constitution bench will decide the contours of this right and consequently rule on the validity of Aadhar card. The decision will have a huge impact on the citizens as it will effect the decision of Aadhar scheme mandatory for the citizens of India. The nine-bench team would examine two judgements delivered in the cases of MP Sharma and Kharak Singh, the cases which announced that the right to rivacy was not a fundamental right.

Here are the two cases.

Kharak Singh vs the State of Uttar Pradesh (1962)

Kharak Singh, the petitioner, was charged under dacoity but due to lack of evidence was released. After referring to his history of involvement in similar cases, the Uttar Pradesh police put him under heavy surveilance permitted under the UP Police Regulations 236. Measures were taken to keep an eye on him that included secret picketing of his house, night visits at home and verifying his movements. Singh filed a writ petition for violation of his fundamental rights to personal liberty and free movement.

In response, the court held that it is ‘his rampart against encroachment on his personal liberty.’ A bench comprising of judge Bhuvaneshwar P Sinha and six others eliminated the clause from the UP Police Regulations 236.

MP Sharma vs Satish Chandra (1954)

In 1946, an FIR was registered against Ms Dalmia Jain Airways Ltd, a group concern, on suspicion of malpractice and search warrants were issued. Search operations were carried out in 34 places belonging to the group. The probe indicated seizure of many documents that indicated malpractices within the company including false accounts and balance sheets. The company challenged the searches saying the ‘power of search and seizure’ had been violated. The case was closed saying the ‘power of search and seizure’ is an ‘overriding power of the State’ and a necessity for social security.