Indian Supreme Court declares the Constitutional Right to Privacy

October 5, 2017

Jayna Kothari wrote in the Oxford Human Rights Hub about the recent unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to declare the Right to Privacy as a Constitutional Right. She details how the Right to Dignity formed the core of the reasoning that led to the definition of the Right to Privacy. The acknowledgment by the Court of the importance of the principles of autonomy, the individual’s right to choose, the right to move freely, right to self-identify one’s gender, right to bodily integrity and reproductive makes this one of the most progressive verdicts passed by the Supreme Court of India.

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2017 has been a big year for constitutional development in India. In a historic and landmark decision, a 9-judge bench of the Supreme Court pronounced that the right to privacy is a constitutional right which is not only rooted in the right to life and liberty, but also enshrined in all other fundamental rights, including the right to equality and the fundamental freedoms.

I would like to focus this piece on the manner in which the right to dignity has been the focus for the Court for the development of the right to privacy. The Court held that the right to live with dignity includes the right to autonomy and to make decisions about one’s life choices. Justice Chandrachud eloquently stated, “ …The best decisions on how life should be lived are entrusted to the individual. ……The duty of the state is to safeguard the ability to take decisions the autonomy of the individual and not to dictate those decisions.” He went on to hold that dignity permeates the core of the rights guaranteed to the individual under Part III of the constitution and privacy assures dignity to the individual.

 

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