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Privacy is a fundamental right, but conditions apply; center tells Supreme Court

In the right to privacy case being heard by the 9-judge bench in the Supreme Court, the center told the court today that right to privacy can be considered a fundamental right, but it cannot be absolute and there are aspects that cannot be described as fundamental. The center has already pointed out to two earlier judgments taken by the Supreme Court in 1950 and 1962 that had held that privacy was not a fundamental right. Representing the government, Attorney General K K Venugopal told the nine-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar that right to privacy can be a fundamental right, but it cannot be absolute.

“There may be a fundamental right to privacy and it has to be a qualified right since it covers diverse aspects and a sub-species of the Right to Liberty. Every aspect or sub- species cannot qualify to be a fundamental right,” Venugopal said. “Right to privacy can’t be one homogeneous right. It’s not absolute and is rather qualified to be elevated to the level of fundamental right. Privacy will be one species which comes under right to liberty,” he added. Venugopal had to clear the government’s stand on the issue since the court had earlier made a sharp statement, saying that if the government accepts that right to privacy is a fundamental right, then the case should be closed immediately. Venugopal said that right to privacy is diverse and cannot be bundled in a single package of fundamental right.

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