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Aadhaar row: Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Puducherry back right to privacy

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Three states along with one Union territory including Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal and Puducherry backed the constitutionality of the right to privacy on Wednesday. Kapil Sibal, who represented these states, told Supreme Court that with the advent of technology that is pervasive in nature, the state had become dominant enough to be invasive in a citizen’s life.

“The right to privacy cannot be absolute but the court needs to strike a balance between the rights of the state and citizens on one hand and rights of citizens and non-state actors on the other,” Sibal said.

Chief Justice JS Khehar at this point of time said that the court was limiting itself to the constitutionality of the right and has no plans to digress from that question.

A nine-judge constitution bench led by the chief justice was formed on 18 July to examine the question of whether the right to privacy constituted a fundamental right. The debate surfaced in the context of legal challenges to the Aadhaar unique identity number. The government made Aadhaar mandatory for getting benefit of government welfare programmes, the tax administration network and online financial transactions.

A total of 22 cases challenging various aspects of Aadhaar were being heard by the court today.

Several counsels appearing for petitioners including Shyam Divan, Gopal Subramanium, Arvind Datar, Anand Grover, Meenakshi Arora and Sajan Poovayya, stated reasons on why the right to privacy should be important.  They completed their arguments for right to privacy on 21 July.

Arguments in the issue will continue throughout the day.