Justice K S Puttaswamy Case (2017) Right To Privacy-Article 21- Landamark Judgement By Abhishek Rana at Lexcliq

Article 21- protection of life and personal liberty no person shall be deprived of  life or personal liberty except according to procedure establish by law.

Right to Privacy- the right of privacy is defined as an individual’s legal right not explicitly provided in the United States Constitution to be left alone and live free from unwarranted publicity. Privacy rights are considered fundamental rights are protected under the constitution and therefore if they are given to some people but not to others then it’s a violation of the Constitution.

So This case arose out of a challenge to a constitutional challenge to the Aadhar project which aims to build a database of the personal identity and biometric information covering every Indian. More than a billion Indians have so far been registered in the Aadhaar programme which sees citizens issued with a 12-digit number that aligns to the specific biometric data such as eye scans and fingerprints. The Registration is now become mandatory for the filing tax returns, opening bank accounts, securing loans, buying and selling property or even making purchases  of the 50,000 rupees and above.’


In year 2012 Justice K.S Puttaswamy (retired) filed a petition in the supreme court challenging the constitutionality of the Aadhar on the grounds that it violates the right to privacy the government argued that there was no constitutional right to privacy in view of a unanimous decision of the eight judges in M.P Sharma vs Satish Chandra (1954) and a decision by a majority of four judges in the Kharak Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh (1964). The case came before a three judge bench of the court which on 11 august 2015 ordered that the matter should be referred to a larger bench of  court on july 18,2017 a five judge Constitution bench ordered the matter to be heard by a nine judge bench of the court.


So Under this unanimous judgement of a nine judge bench Supreme Court of India has held that right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is protected under Article-21 of the Constitution of India.

It explicitly overruled previous the judgement of the Supreme Court in Kharak Singh vs State of UP and M.P Sharma Vs Union of India which has held that the there is no fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution.

The Triple test laid down in the judgement to check if it invades privacy viz.

  • Existence of a law- a legislation that legalises the collection of personal data
  • A legitimate state interest- a purported goal like national interest, security etc. that justifies collection of data
  • Test of proportionality – a rational connection between the collection of data and the objective which the state is claiming to achieve.
  • Test of Proportionality- a rational connection between the collection of data and the objective which the state is claiming to achieve.


The Supreme Court also opined that the sexuality or sexual orientation is also protected under privacy. This had an impact on the later SC judgement that decriminalized the homosexuality. The judgement also recognized right to food as a right under the larger ambit of privacy. This will have an impact on the debate surrounding the consumption of beef and alcohol etc. The  Puttaswamy  judgement also addressed the rising concern against the Big Data and stressed on the need for a data protection law.

Based on the triple test framed by this bench, the Aadhaar was declared constitutional. The right to privacy under article 14,19 and 21 of the constitution.

The Supreme Court declared privacy to be an integral component of part (iii) of the Constitution of India which lays down our fundamental rights ranging from rights relating to equality (articles 14 to 18) freedom of speech and expression (Article 19(1)(a) freedom of movement (Article 19(1)(d) protection of life and personal liberty (Article 21) and others.

Significance of this Judgement

The Right to privacy as a fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian Constitution one can move to the Supreme Court or the High Court against tyranny of state and this will strengthen freedom of thoughts, expression, belief etc.

Provides for the protection against the state’s interference in the private matters including marriage, family &sex and it will help in prevent the situation of surveilliance by the state.

It will give boost to the right of the transgender & LGBT as confirmed by scrapping of section 377 of IPC. The dignity & integrity of a people;s body , mind & thoughts are protected through right to privacy.

Now one can make the state accountable &seek justice in case of any infringement in the private zone & in case of unnecessary surveillance without his/her consent.

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