Continuing to justify seeking of biometric details for aadhaar scheme, Attorney General K K Venugopal representing the Centre said several personal details are sought for passport, during census, for voter ID but no such right to privacy issues were or are raised.
“Look at how for census and passport and voter registration, the kind of data taken and put in public domain, the requirement in this regard is also similar and it cannot be objected. The privacy concerns raised are misplaced”, the AG told the nine judge bench headed by chief justice J S Khehar deciding if right to privacy needs to be elevated as a fundamental rights.
Touching on the issue, Venugopal’s written submission had also said: “It is also submitted that the right to privacy can never be claimed, if practically each and every one of the aspects sought to be protected is already in the public domain and the information in question has already been parted with by the citizens. For instance a reading of the census form, issued under the census act, 1948 would show that the information in much greater detail is routinely sought as part of the census exercise. Similarly before contesting elections candidates have to disclose pendency of criminal cases, details of assets and loans and educational qualifications”, it had said.
“The photograph is integral part of drivers license, or voter ID card and is displayed on the voters list itself. Additionally the print or impression of all ten fingers is taken when a passport is issued or when a visa is granted, when a transaction to the transfer of immovable property is registered”, he said.
Attorney General KK Venugopal has concluded his arguments vehemently asking the bench to uphold the finding in M P Sharma and Kharak Siingh that right to privacy is not a fundamental right.
At present senior lawyer Aryama Sundaram is arguing for the state of Maharashtra. He will continue after the lunch break
CENTRE HARDENS STAND AGAIN
The hearing also witnessed a hardening of Centre’s stand on right to privacy as a fundamental rights once again. In a dramatic development, Venugopal had yesterday almost conceded that some aspects of privacy may require an elevated protection of Fundamental Right. Today he said that privacy if at all can only be one among the umbrella of rights under personal liberty under 21.
He said it is subservient to claims of other basic needs and also “privacy is a vague sociological notion and not a jural concept”.
“If at all, only some facets of privacy may be fundamental rights. Informational privacy is not a fundamental right”, he said.
Proceeding to show how privacy was considered and not added as a right by constituent assembly, he said the conclusions arrived at in M P Sharma and Kharak Singh regarding the absence of a fundamental right to privacy under the constitution are supported by the debates in the constituent assembly on this subject.
“An analysis of these debates reveals that the framers rejected the right to privacy being made part of the fundamental rights under our constitution”, said the Attorney General.
There was some lighter moment amidst the heated and serious arguments when Venugopal, while referring to various US judgments on rights issues also raised President Trump's Order banning Transgenders from military service. The order drew condemnation from rights groups and some lawmakers in both parties as politically motivated discrimination but was praised by conservative activists and some Republicans.
As Justice Rohinton Nariman laughed aloud, Justice J Chelameswar said transgenders were traditionally the most prominent body guards in India. ASG Tushar Mehta then rose to say “yes perhaps during the Mughal era”.