New Delhi, July 27: The debate around ‘Right to Privacy’ has been doing the rounds since quite some time. However, the Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that while right to privacy is a fundamental right, it is “wholly qualified right”, implying that it could be subject to reasonable restrictions. This is contrary to the government’s earlier stand that citizens cannot invoke privacy as a fundamental right as the Constitution does not provide for it. The aforementioned statement was given by Attorney General KK Venugopal who resumed his arguments before a nine-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar.
The Attorney General had yesterday told the bench that the right to privacy could be a fundamental right, but could not be absolute. The court had asked the AG the difference between the right to privacy being considered a common law right and a fundamental right. He had replied that the common law right could be enforced by filing a civil law suit and if it was considered a fundamental right, the court could enforce it like any other writ.
The contentious issue of whether the right was a fundamental one was referred to a larger bench in 2015 after the Centre underlined two judgements delivered in 1950 and 1962 by the apex court that had held it was not a fundamental right.
On the other hand, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, while representing 4 non-BJP ruled States, Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Puducherry, had argued that these States supported the contention that the right to privacy be held as fundamental in the age of technological advancements.
The apex court had, earlier this month, set up the Constitution bench after the matter was referred to a larger bench by a five-judge bench. The Centre had, later, submitted in the apex court that the Right to Privacy could not fall in the bracket of fundamental rights as there were binding decisions of larger benches that it was a common law right evolved through judicial pronouncements.