The Telegraph
Friday , August 25 , 2017

Text not the sole test: SC

New Delhi, Aug. 24: The Supreme Court today rejected the Centre's argument that since the right to privacy does not figure among the fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution, it cannot be a constitutional right.

"To sanctify an argument that whatever is not found in the text of the Constitution cannot become a part of the Constitution would be too primitive an understanding of the Constitution and contrary to settled canons of constitutional interpretation," Justice J. Chelameswar observed in his separate but concurring judgment.

"Such an approach regarding the rights and liberties of citizens would be an affront to the collective wisdom of our people and the wisdom of the members of the Constituent Assembly."

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul explained how citizens had the right to protect their reputations not just against falsehoods but also against "certain truths" about themselves.

"It cannot be said that a more accurate judgment about people can be facilitated by knowing private details about their lives -- people judge us badly, they judge us in haste, they judge out of context, they judge without hearing the whole story and they judge with hypocrisy," he said.

Quoting several foreign authors on the right to privacy, Justice Kaul said: "Privacy lets people protect themselves from these troublesome judgments. There is no justification for making all truthful information available to the public.

"Which celebrity has had sexual relationships with whom might be of interest to the public but has no element of public interest and may therefore be a breach of privacy. Thus, truthful information that breaches privacy may also require protection.

"Every individual should have a right to be able to exercise control over his/her own life and image as portrayed to the world and to control commercial use of his/her identity."

Justice Kaul added: "The right of privacy is a fundamental right; it is a right which protects the inner sphere of the individual from interference from both State and non-State actors and allows the individual to make autonomous life choices.

"The privacy of the home must protect the family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation which are all important aspects of dignity."

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