Fundamental Rights Current Affairs - 2020

Kerala High Court makes notice mandatory for strike and Hartals

The High Court of Kerala has set a seven-day notice period for political parties and individuals to call for hartal and general strike in the State.

Why the 7 day notice period?

The Kerala High Court has provided the following reasons for setting a seven-day notice period:

  • To provide time for the citizens to approach the court with their objections and to enable courts to examine the legality of the hartal call on request of citizens.
  • To provide an opportunity for the State to be prepared for safeguarding the interests of the citizens.
  • Even though the court recognised the fundamental right of those who call for a strike to demonstrate their protests, it made it clear that the rights cannot be exercised in violation of the fundamental rights of other citizens.
  • The court made it clear that the fundamental right of the citizens to life and livelihood would outweigh the fundamental right of persons calling for strikes and hartals.
  • The court further said that since the call for hartals and general strikes denies the fundamental rights of traders, the general public, migrant labourers and those in unorganised sectors, those persons who call for hartals will be held responsible for the loses suffered due to the event.

Observations of the High Court

The court observed that Kerala’s economy had taken a severe hit during the recent devastating floods and the frequent strikes will only cause more sufferings for the economy of the state. Kerala’s economy is dependent on tourism and the travel advisories issued by foreign countries against visiting Kerala cannot be ignored.

The Court noted that in 2018, 97 hartals and strikes had taken place in the State and in 2019 one hartal was called on January 3, Trade unions have also called for a two-day strike starting January 8. Frequent strikes like these are a cause of concern.

Supreme Court declares right to privacy as Fundamental right under constitution

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.

Comment

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.