The Young Lawyers Behind India’s Right To Privacy Fight

The Supreme of India declared today, August 24, that right to privacy is a fundamental right intrinsic under Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

Retired Karnataka High Court Judge KS Puttaswamy was the original petitioner in the case for right to privacy. He had filed a writ petition in 2012 against the government’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for every citizen and liking it with various benefits.

The petitioners representing Judge Puttaswamy were advocates Gopal Subramanium, Kapil Sibal, Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan, Anand Grover, Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya and Jayant Bhushan.

The historic verdict to recognise privacy as a birthright of every Indian citizen was given unanimously by a 9-judge bench which included the Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, Dr D Y Chandrachud, S K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.

There were a few of the country’s youth too who fought the right to privacy battle against the government and came out victorious.

S Prasanna

Born in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, Prasanna, 34, is a coder turned lawyer.

He believes the general lack of opposition among the public to ideas such as Aadhaar, the unique ID programme that is at the core of the privacy debate, stems from a “fascination with technology” and a belief “that if it is a machine, it will make correct choices.”

Nothing could be more flawed, he says.

Apar Gupta

A pass out of Mount St Mary’s, Delhi, Apar Gupta, 33, is a graduate of Columbia Law School.  

On the government’s push for Aadhaar he had said, “There is an administrative fetish, which is fed by Aadhaar. (Governments) get a digital dashboard and are able to create the illusion that they are administering efficiently. It’s on a good-faith basis to some degree, but all digitisation is not good. Digital IDs by themselves have resulted in savings, but that has been without Aadhaar. Conservative estimates are that nearly Rs 11,000 crore has been spent on Aadhaar,” reported The Indian Express.

Gautam Bhatia

As reported by The Indian Express, Bhatia, 28, was a law graduate from National Law University, Bangalore (NLU-B) and was studying for a degree in legal philosophy at Yale when WikiLeaks broke, followed by Edward Snowden’s revelations in June 2013. In December 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a law against surveillance and Bhatia closely followed ACLU’s fight against the US National Security Agency for two-and-a-half hours.

After he returned to India, NLU-B asked him to do a paper on surveillance which Bhatia described as a ‘golden moment’.

“Too much data about citizens with the state is anti-democratic,” he believes.

Bhatia was one of the lawyers on senior counsel Datar’s team.

Kritika Bharadwaj

A political science graduate from LSR, Delhi, Kritika, 26, did her LLB from Delhi University’s Faculty of Law and masters from Cambridge in Information Law.

Even had been an advocate of privacy and against Aadhaar even before she completed her masters.

“We were shocked by the Centre’s arguments that privacy is not a fundamental right. We had prepared things pertinent to Aadhaar, of projects, exclusion and biometrics. But when the government made this plea, we all sat up and decided to help push this back,” she said.

The Logical Indian community commends all the activists, petitioners, lawyers and judges involved in the fight to urge the Supreme Court to recognise privacy as a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution. The Court’s verdict will be penned down in history as one of the greatest wins for the Indian democracy.

Source: The Logical Indian