In a quick reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on the Right to Privacy, the Congress on 24 August said the verdict is a blow to the "creeping advances" of those who want to convert India into a "fascist police state".
Taking to the social media, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala hailed the judgement as a 'path breaking and seminal judgement' of the Supreme Court.
Path breaking & seminal judgement of Supreme Court declares 'Privacy' as fundamental right. A great victory for liberty & freedom.1/2— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 24, 2017
2/2 S.C rejects Modi Govt's attempt to whittle down the right to privacy as a fundamental right by AG's plea of no mention in Constitution.— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 24, 2017
#RighToPrivacy verdict is a blow to the creeping advances of those who want to convert India into a fascist police state.— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 24, 2017
Echoing similar sentiment, while talking to ANI, Surjewala said this is the first such decision taken in the interest of the rights of an individual.
"The decision to give right to privacy a status of being a fundamental right is historic as well as path converter. This is the first such big decision taken in the interest of the rights of an individual. The Congress welcomes this verdict. We welcome this decision as this is the biggest decision on freedom of an individual," he added.
Addressing the media after the apex court's verdict, Congress leader and former union minister P. Chidambaram said today we can once again celebrate our freedom as this verdict is a setback to the government.
"Article 21 is the right to life and liberty. Any corrosion of that should be fought. Privacy is the core of personal liberty. Privacy is an inalienable part of life itself. Today we can once again celebrate our freedom. This verdict is a setback to the government," he told the media here.
Chidambaram further said that there is no fault in the Aadhar concept, but a fault in how this government plans to use or misuse the Aadhar as a tool.
"The Aadhar we (Congress) thought is completely compatible with the Right to Privacy. Aadhar in itself is not inconsistent with the Right to Privacy, it is the current government's interpretation that is not correct," he said, adding, "it is the interpretation of this government of the Article 21 which is an invasion of Right To Privacy."
Chidambaram also took to Twitter to react on the verdict.
Privacy is a fundamental right. The freedom that was won in 1947 has been enriched and enlarged.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 24, 2017
Privacy is the core of personal liberty. Article 21 has acquired a new magnificence.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 24, 2017
The Supreme Court 24 August overruled the M.P. Sharma (1962) and Kharak Singh (1954) judgement and held that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, in an unanimous decision (of the nine-judge bench).
The verdict was given as soon as the nine-judge Constitution bench of the apex court resumed the hearing on the case on Thursday morning.
Following this, a five-judge constitutional bench will decide whether the Aadhar violates the Right to Privacy or not.
The Supreme Court, earlier on August 2, had reserved its judgement over the issue of whether right to privacy is fundamental or not.
On July 26, the Centre told the apex court that there is a fundamental right to privacy, which is a 'wholly qualified right' too.
The Centre made this submission before the nine-judge Constitution bench.
Attorney General, K.K. Venugopal told the apex court that "privacy, as a fundamental right, could have been mentioned in Article 21, but has been omitted. Right to life transcends right to privacy".
In special circumstances, the government can interfere in a matter that comes under a wholly qualified right. An absolute right cannot be reduced or amended.
Earlier on July 20, all the petitioners had completed their argument in the apex court. The petitioners contested that the twelve-digit biometric unique identification card raises privacy threat.
On 10 June, the top court had ruled that from 1 July onward, every person eligible to obtain Aadhar card must quote their Aadhaar number or their Aadhaar Enrolment ID number for filing of Income Tax Returns as well as for applications for Permanent Account Number (PAN).
The Income Tax Department has stepped up its efforts to encourage people to link their PAN with Aadhar.