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Privacy not a fundamental right, argues Mukul Rohatgi for Govt as Govt affidavit says otherwise

The right to privacy is not a fundamental right, argued attorney general of India Mukul Rohatgi while defending the constitutional validity of the Aadhar Card, even though his client had allegedly admitted otherwise, reported the Indian Express. Rohatgi has asked for a nine-judge bench to examine whether privacy is a fundamental right in India.

Supreme Court justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde and C Nagappan were hearing Rohatgi in a batch of petitions that were clubbed with the year 2012 writ petition of justice KS Puttaswamy challenging the validity of India’s User Identification (UID) card, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan.

Rohatgi argued that an eight-judge bench of the Supreme Court had already ruled in 1954 that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right but this judgement was then diluted by some smaller-bench judgements during the 1990s in which it was held that the right to privacy can sometimes be interpreted as a fundamental right in India. He said that to settle these divergent views a larger bench should be constituted.

Divan argued for the petitioners that the government has already admitted in its affidavit that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, so it is too late for it to argue differently. He said that the constitution has to be read as a dynamic document requiring interpretations to suit modern times.

In a September 2013 interim order in the cases, the Supreme Court had already ruled that the Aadhaar card is not a mandatory UID in India, and was concerned about contempt of its orders when it commenced hearing the petitions again on Tuesday, reported NDTV.

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