In a momentous judgment delivered in the case of K. S Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012] today, the Supreme Court of India affirmed that citizens have a fundamental right to privacy. The nine-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S Khehar, and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, J. Chelameshwar, S.A. Bobde, A. Nazeer, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, and S.K. Kaul, held in a unanimous decision that Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and other freedoms guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
The nine-judge Bench was tasked with answering the specific question of whether the previous Supreme Court judgments in M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra [AIR 1954 SC 300] (an eight-judge Bench) and Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh [AIR 1963 SC 1295] (a six-judge Bench) were correct in holding that the Constitution of India does not envisage a fundamental right to privacy.
CJI J.S. Khehar read out the operative portion of the judgment:
(i) The decision in M P Sharma which holds that the right to privacy is not protected by the Constitution stands over-ruled;
(ii) The decision in Kharak Singh to the extent that it holds that the right to privacy is not protected by the Constitution stands over-ruled;
(iii) The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
(iv) Decisions subsequent to Kharak Singh which have enunciated the position in (iii) above lay down the correct position in law.
The full text of the judgment is attached below.