Fundamental Rights Current Affairs
The nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar in a landmark unanimous decision has declared right to privacy a fundamental right under the constitution.
With this, the apex court overruled its own previous eight-judge Bench and six-judge Bench judgments of M.P. Sharma and Kharak Singh delivered in 1954 and 1961, respectively, both of which had pronounced that the right to privacy is not protected under the constitution.
Supreme Court Judgment
The apex court ruled that right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 and entire Part III of the Constitution. It overruled the apex court’s earlier two judgements that right to privacy is not protected under the Constitution.
The apex court also had voiced concern over the possible misuse of personal information in the public domain. The question whether Aadhaar violates right to privacy will be dealt with by the five-judge bench which has been hearing the petitions since 2015.
The Supreme Court of India’s judgment gains international significance as privacy enjoys a robust legal framework internationally, though India had earlier remained circumspect. The judgment finally reconcile Indian laws with the spirit of Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, which legally protects persons against the arbitrary interference with one’s privacy, honour and reputation, family, home and correspondence.
The Supreme Court ordered that Indian Airforce (IAF) personnel cannot keep beard. It held that Central Government’s decision to ban beards in the IAF does not infringe upon fundamental rights.
The court had pronounced the judgment on an appeal by Mohammed Zubair, who was recruited as Airman in the IAF and was sacked for growing beard even after being denied permission.
What is the issue?
The appellant had claimed that keeping beard is his fundamental right to freedom of religion. However, IAF had countered it saying that keeping a beard was not an essential practice of their faith unlike in the Sikh religion.
What Supreme Court order says?
- Upheld the decision of the IAF to dismiss a Muslim airman for growing beard citing religious grounds.
- The Armed Forces Regulation, 1964 allows growing hair or to retain a beard is where there is a religious command which prohibits either the hair being cut or a beard being shaved.
- Article 33 of the Constitution has the authority to impose restriction on the fundamental rights of Armed Forces personnel.
- Defence Ministry’s 2003 notification allows only those Muslim personnel who sported a beard along with moustache at time of commissioning (prior to January 1, 2002) to retain it.
- These regulations are meant for uniformity and discipline and have nothing to do with religious rights.