New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that liberty of the citizens can be at peril if the judiciary is not alert, and also stressed the need for progressive interpretation of the Constitution to meet the aspirations of the changing times.
The Supreme Court cited the Emergency, without naming it directly, as an example when personal liberties can be suspended.
“India’s brush with a regime of the suspension of life and personal liberty in the not too distant past is a grim reminder of how tenuous liberty can be, if the judiciary is not vigilant,” the apex court said in its Right to Privacy judgement.
The opposition has been criticising the Narendra Modi government for imposing an “undeclared Emergency” in the country, and on Thursday interpreted the apex court judgement as a setback to the government.
The apex court also said that the interpretation of the Constitution “cannot be frozen” by its original understanding.
“The Constitution has evolved and must continuously evolve to meet the aspirations and challenges of the present and the future. Nor can judges foresee every challenge and contingency which may arise in the future.
“This is particularly of relevance in an age where technology reshapes our fundamental understanding of information, knowledge and human relationships that was unknown even in the recent past,” it said.
Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee hailed the judgement as “progressive”, saying that the apex court has been futuristic in its observations.
The judgement also said: “As judges interpreting the Constitution today, the court must leave open the path for succeeding generations to meet the challenges to privacy that may be unknown today.”
The court, while deciding that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right, also fell back on debates in the Constituent Assembly.
It underlined that clauses protecting the secrecy of correspondence and searches and seizures were dropped on certain grounds, but “from this, it cannot be concluded that the Constituent Assembly had expressly resolved to reject the notion of the right to privacy as an integral element of the liberty and freedoms guaranteed by the fundamental rights”.
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