The Aadhaar Case: The Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court of India passed a judgment on the 24th of August 2017 in which it affirmed that the Constitution of India guarantees to each individual a fundamental right to privacy. This was seen in the case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India ((2017) 10 SCC 1) and the case was presided over by Justice J. S.  Khehar, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Justice D. Y.  Chandrachud, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice R K Agarwal, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice A Nazeer, Justice SA Bobde, Justice A M Sapre.


The case was brought by 91-year-old retired High Court Judge Puttaswamy against the Union of India (the Government of India) before a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court on a reference from the Constitution Bench to determine whether or not the right to privacy was secure as a freelance fundamental right following conflicting decisions from alternative Supreme Court benches.

The most recent instance involved a legal challenge to the government’s Aadhaar plan (a type of uniform biometrics-based identity card that the government proposed making mandatory for access to government services and benefits). The challenge was filed before a three-judge Supreme Court panel on the grounds that the theme violated the right to privacy.

However, on behalf of the Union of Asian Nations, the Attorney General claimed that the Indian Constitution does not provide specific protection for the right to privacy. He based his reasoning mostly on observations made in the cases of M.P.Sharma v.Satish Chandra (an eight-judge bench) and Kharak Singh v.Uttar Pradesh (a five-judge bench).

However, a later eleven-judge bench determined that elementary rights should not be interpreted as independent, unconnected rights, sustaining their dissent in Kharak Singh. This also served as the foundation for later Supreme Court decisions by smaller benches that explicitly recognized the right to privacy. A Constitution Bench was established, and there was a requirement for a nine-judge bench to determine whether or not the Constitution contained an elementary right to privacy and formulated the following issues:

  1. Is the judgment in M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra, District Magistrate of Delhi, legal?
  2. Is the judgment in Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh legal?
  3. Is the right to privacy an essential component of the right to life and personal liberty protected by Article 21 and the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution?


On August 24, 2017, a nine-judge bench of India’s Supreme Court issued a major decision upholding the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court stated that privacy is to be a vital part of Part III of the Indian Constitution, which sets out the key freedoms of the citizens.

The Supreme Court likewise expressed that the state should cautiously adjust individual privacy and the legitimate aim, at any cost. Fundamental rights can’t be given or removed by laws, and all regulations and acts should stick to the constitutional scheme. The Court likewise proclaimed that the right to privacy is not an absolute right and it laid out the following three tests that such violation of privacy must fulfill in order for the court to not struck it down:

  1. Legitimate Aim.
  2. Proportionality.
  3. Legality.

The judgment in M. P. Sharma vs. Satish Chandra District Magistrate of Delhi, which says that the right to privacy is not protected by the Indian Constitution, is overruled; similarly, the decision in Kharak Singh vs. State of UP, which holds that the right to privacy is not protected by the Constitution, is overruled.


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