Indian Supreme Court: Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right

August 26, 2017 – 7:40 am

The Indian supreme court has given some extra ordinary judgments recently. On Thursday, 24th August, 2017 the highest court of India gave this landmark judgment that “Right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is intrinsic to right to life”. It was an unanimous judgement of the 9 judge constitutional bench. This judgement overruled two earlier judgments of the supreme court itself which said Right to privacy is not a fundamental right.

Now what led to this judgement. The present government of India is involving Aadhar ( a unique identity number to every person) in everything. They want Aadhar card to be linked with PAN card, phone number, bank account number etc. Government claims they want to use this in dispensing social welfare means and it will help in plugging holes. But will it not be risky to put a person’s all information at one source? The state may be looking at one source through which it will be able to retrieve all info for a person. But it is dangerous if the info gets in a wrong hand. In our country where the system is so slippery where bribery is the rule rather than exception one need to be cautious and preventive. This verdict should give that preventive check. The government is already talking about a data protection bill and the law minister said it should be ready in 3 – 4 months.  It can have reasonable restrictions as fundamental rights but those reasonable restrictions now has to pass the test of law or right to privacy itself.

One of the judge justice Chandrachud said right to privacy also means right to be left alone. This is profound.

The verdict has far reaching implications as it touches various spheres of an Individual’s life. The supreme court also mentioned few cases which will be impacted by this judgment:

Section 377:

Section 377 a law passed in the British era (1860) is still going in the constitution of India while the world has moved ahead. It was an angelic insertion which curtails the choice of consenting individuals and must go away. The state should have nothing to do with what consenting adults do in their bedroom. Criminalizing ones sexual orientation is definitely against the right to privacy, dignity and liberty, provided by the constitution of India. The court said the earlier judgement was flawed. Curative petitions are already pending in this regard and to be heard by a 5 judge bench of the supreme court. A P Shah who in 2009 gave the Delhi High Court judgment striking down section 377 said following this verdict there is very little room to defend it now.  It is non bailable and punishment calls for life imprisonment. The law is outdated, unreasonable and grossly misused. It should go.

 Aadhar:

Aadhar will stay but there will be guidelines for its usage.

There are many other things which will be touched with this judgement like decision to terminate pregnancy, decision to end life etc.  It will be interesting to see its impact as things evolve.

Matrimonial Issues Driving Men to Suicide

August 13, 2017 – 6:58 pm

On August 10, 2017 IAS Officer and Buxar district (Bihar) magistrate Mukesh Pandey gave up on his life on a railway track at Ghaziabad near Delhi. He was all of 29 years old and probably had a bright career ahead of him. Why did he take this extreme step?

Hindustan Times quoted one member of his family from Guwahati saying – “He seemed disturbed because of differences with his wife”. A suicide note was also found on his body which stated – ” I am fed up with life and my belief in human existence has gone. ” This piece of paper also told about a suicide note that he left in his hotel room.

Mostly it is said that men commit suicide as sudden rush of negative emotions engulfs them. But here Mukesh Pandey made elaborate plans for committing the suicide. He had recorded a video of his plan of committing suicide and why he is committing suicide at the Buxar circuit house.

Then he travels around 1000 km to Delhi to execute his plan. He probably did not wanted his sad end in the area where he was administrative head. Or probably he wanted the last days of his life to more peaceful. He clearly tells that he and his wife are not compatible. He also mentioned that she is aggressive and he is fed up of the fights between his wife and his parents. It is not very difficult to infer from here that matrimonial issues has led to his death. Matrimonial issues has driven men to mental imbalance and suicide regularly. And the numbers are rising year by year according to NCRB data.

Society puts excessive expectation on man and if he is not able to meet any one of them then he is named and shamed. The laws of the country on the other hand are also biased. Looks like the sole role of men in this society is just to provide and if he is unable to do so then he will be named and shamed. Society and law also creates a cage around marriage. They expect the men to be in a marriage even if it is not working out, if he facing domestic violence etc. The state also puts incentives around these by enacting various laws which are used to harass men and his family. But the society and the government forgets when people are caged and there is no way out, either they will kill themselves or the other person.

If a relationship is not working, people in the relation should be able to leave without causing harm to one another. Trying to cage or force them to stay will be detrimental for their well being and society in the long run. Breaking of a relation in itself is a huge emotional trauma and if we put more barriers around it then we will continue to have more stories like IAS Officer Mukesh Pandey.

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