This week India saw two landmark SC judgments which will change the country’s discourse in long run. one being instant triple talaq declared as illegal and unconstitutional and second, right to privacy has been held as fundamental right by nine judge bench unanimously. SC held that privacy is an inalienable right, and a crucial aspect of individual liberty and dignity.
The Maharashtra law, which makes carrying or keeping beef at home an offence, is going to be the first legislation to be tested on the plank of right to privacy which has now been declared a fundamental right as the Supreme Court on Friday said that it would examine the law in the light of its privacy verdict delivered two days ago.
SC is examining a bunch of petitions challenging the Bombay High Court verdict which upheld the government’s decision to ban slaughter of bullocks, but struck down Section 5D of Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995 law which empowered the police to enter, stop and search a person on suspicion of possessing beef. The HC had said that a ban on imported beef would be an infringement of right to privacy.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising contended before a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that the case had to be examined in the light of apex court’s verdict holding right to privacy as a fundamental right. She also said that right to food of one’s choice was part of fundamental rights and the government could not frame a law to encroach upon the right.
Senior advocate C U Singh also told the apex court that the privacy judgement would have to be looked into while deciding the issue.
“Yes, that judgement will have some bearing in these matters,” the bench observed.
The bench said it would consider the issue on the next date of hearing and posted the matter after two weeks.
Interestingly, the state government, in its appeal, contended that privacy was not a fundamental right. As a nine-judge constitution bench declaring privacy as part of fundamental rights, the defence of the state government on the ground of privacy holds no ground and the state would have to raise another ground to challenge HC verdict.
The Supreme Court in its verdict also dealt with food habits of people while deliberating on right to privacy and said that a state should not have “unqualified authority” to intrude into certain aspects of human life which amounts to violation of right to privacy.