K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India


Edited By: Aman Tyagi, Student, University Five Year Law College, Jaipur


The modern world is technology-based. Unlike the olden times when people were isolated from the world, modern people are all connected through the internet. The technological improvements pose a great threat as they have access to the individual’s information which is accessible through their electronic devices. One such technological advancement was the Aadhar Scheme which required the collection of biometric information of individuals and storing it. K S Puttaswamy filed a case opposing this scheme stating that this scheme violates the right to privacy. Questions were raised on whether the right to privacy is present as a fundamental right in the Constitution. After several discussions and going through various case laws, the meeting of the Constitutional Assembly, the origins of privacy, the articles of various scholars like J S Mill and the changing social order the Supreme Court declared that the right to privacy is a fundamental right which falls under Article 21 and is protected by Part III of the Constitution. The Judgment also served as a basis for the Union Government to take steps to introduce the Data Protection Bill in the Parliament. The Judgement as a whole is considered a landmark judgment which emphasized the importance of privacy regarding an individual.



Privacy, K S Puttaswamy, Aadhar case, Article 21, Fundamental right, right to privacy.



      i)          Judgment Cause Title / Case Name

K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India

    ii)          Case Number

Writ Petitions (C) No. 494 of 2012

   iii)          Judgment Date

August 24, 2017

   iv)          Court

Honourable Supreme Court of India

     v)          Quorum / Constitution of Bench

9 Judges Bench

   vi)          Author / Name of Judges

Justice D Y Chandrachud authored the opinions of Justice J.S Khehar (CJI), Justice R K Agarwal, Justice A Nazeer, and himself. Justices SA Bobde, A M Sapre, Jasti Chalameswar, R Nariman, S K Kaul gave their differing opinions.

 vii)          Citation

K.S. Puttaswamy (Privacy-9J.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1

viii)          Legal Provisions Involved

Article 21



K S Puttaswamy (retired justice), filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India challenging the Aadhar card scheme introduced by the Central Government in 2009. The UIDAI gives citizens of India Unique Identification Numbers (UNI) through Aadhar cards. The main problem he brought up was that this scheme intrudes on an individual’s right to privacy. Whether privacy is a fundamental right and if it is protected by the Constitution were also asked. Privacy is a right under Article 21 according to the Court which took into consideration what was said by both sides before making their decision; they further held that Part III of our constitution protects this right too.



i) Procedural Background of the Case

The Case was first referred to a three-judge bench in the Supreme Court, which stated that a larger bench is required to decide on this case as there is a question of the Constitution. Thus, a nine-judge bench decided the case.

 ii) Factual Background of the Case

In 2009, the Central Government launched the UIDAI scheme which provides Unique Identification numbers in the form of Aadhar cards to its citizens. These cards are necessary for people to avail themselves of benefits under various other government schemes which can be received through linking their Aadhar card with respective bank accounts. The UIDAI was to collect the biometric information of the individuals and store this information to identify the individual. Questioning this data collection procedure of the UIDAI; K S Puttaswamy, a retired judge filed a case in the Supreme Court stating that the collection of biometric data and storing of this information can be considered as an infringement of the right to privacy of an individual.



  1. Whether Privacy is Constitutionally protected
  2. Whether the Indian Constitution protects privacy as an essential principle
  3. Whether the decisions of the Supreme Court in M.P. Sharma and Ors. vs. Satish Chandra and Kharak Singh are valid
  4. Whether privacy as a right is protected under Part III of the Constitution
  5. Whether the right to privacy exists as a separate right or whether it should be considered as a part of the right to life and liberty



The petitioners said that even trivial issues on invasion of privacy attract the right to privacy. They also claimed that the decisions in the cases of M P Sharma and Kharak Singh failed to reflect the legal position and therefore, have been overruled in the cases of Rustom Cavasji Cooper v Union of India and Maneka Gandhi v Union of India. The right to privacy according to them is a fundamental right that is connected with personal liberty as well as dignity; they drew Court’s attention towards Articles 14,19,20,21 and 25. 

Moreover, it was claimed that privacy should be considered essential by all means apart from being recognised domestically; internationally also various forums have recognised it under human rights law. The counsels relied on many authorities touching upon this subject matter to establish naturalness or “presumed presence” under our Constitution Advocate Kabil Sibil supporting the petitioners said that privacy is to be recognised as a fundamental right and State action that violates the fundamental right to privacy must contain at least four elements, namely: “The action must be sanctioned by law; the proposed action must be necessary in a democratic society for a legitimate aim; The extent of such interference must be proportionate to the need for such interference; There must be procedural guarantees against abuse of such interference.”[1]



  The counsels for Respondent submitted that the Constitution does not mention the right to privacy. The Attorney General of India appearing on behalf of the Union of India stated that the existence of fundamental rights is in doubt when regarding the previous two judgments in MP Sharma and Kharak Singh. They submitted that the decision in MP Sharma was given by an eight-judge bench and the decision in Kharak Singh was delivered by a six-judge bench. The respondents also mentioned that based on the observations of these cases; it can be concluded that the Constitution does not specifically protect the right to privacy.

It was also said that ‘there is no fundamental or general right to privacy; Part III of the Constitution covers some facets of privacy there is no right to privacy present in the Constitution as a blanket right which contains all these facets under it; though Part III of the Constitution protects certain aspects of privacy, they are subject to certain restrictions by the state in case of public interest; also privacy has not been defined clearly and that the framers of the Constitution have not put much thought into it.’

The respondents wanted the Court to consider the right to privacy as an elicit construct. The Attorney General wanted the Court to stand with its decisions in MP Sharma and Kharak Singh’s case. The Additional Solicitor General of India appearing for the UIDAI, supporting the Attorney General said privacy is a vague and subjective concept. The attorney general asked the Court to use the US Court’s standard to test whether the petitioner satisfies the “reasonable expectation of privacy” for such an infraction of privacy to be considered a fundamental right.

It was submitted by the counsels supporting the respondents that life and personal liberty have been included in Article 21 and that even the US doesn’t use the right to privacy to test the laws which were earlier tested on its basis. The Attorney General said that the right to privacy at best can be considered only as a common right and not as a fundamental right.



 The main legal provision that was referred to while discussing this case in the court was Article 21. Article 21 states “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”[2] Discussions were made on whether the right to privacy is part of Article 21 as it deals with personal liberty and the right to life. There were also discussions regarding Part III of the Constitution which deals with fundamental rights on whether it implicitly mentions the right to privacy.



The Judges declared their decision supporting the presence of the right to privacy under Article 21 and that it is protected by Part III of the Constitution.

They gave three rules on how to test for privacy. The first rule is to consider the opposite. Accordingly, Privacy is to be deemed as a synonym of publicity. A person can decide what he wants to be kept private and what he needs to be kept as public. Privacy is directly and indirectly connected to the actions performed to protect it from interference. To check if an actionable claim is available against an action regarding privacy, two essentials are to be present. The two essentials required to establish an act as a private act are intent to choose and specify. An individual can choose whom he wants to share information or property with and specify who these other people are. The Court also stated that privacy is not limited to property and places. Also, it held that private information is inaccessible to others.

The Judges also stated that any violation of the right to privacy by any authority mentioned under Article 12 must satisfy tests applicable to the rights mentioned under Part III of the Constitution.

The Judges stated that the Court’s decision in the MP Sharma and Kharak Singh cases are overruled and their decision in this case will prevail over it.



The K S Puttaswamy case is considered a landmark judgment which paved way for new rules and guidelines regarding privacy in India. The counsels appearing for the petitioners and the respondents referred to various national and international case laws to present their side of the argument in the Supreme Court. Several references were also made to the international declarations on privacy. After analysing and hearing both parties the judges declared that privacy is a right protected under Part III and Article 21 of the Constitution. This judgment serves as an important guiding framework in the modern world where the issues related to privacy are on the rise. It is considerable of the court to do a detailed analysis of the law and case laws in India and outside India to take this decision. They also took into consideration the changing social situations which require the protection of private life and information of individuals. The Judgement also influenced several future cases like the Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India 2018, a landmark judgement relating to same-sex relationships.


  1. Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) And Anr. vs Union Of India And Ors. 2017 (10) SCC (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/91938676/ )
  2. MP Sharma v. Satish Chandra, (1954) SCR 1077 (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1306519/ )
  3. Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (1964) 1 SCR 332
  4. (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/619152/ )
  5. R.C. Cooper v. Union of India, (1970) 1 SCC 248
  6.  (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/513801/ )
  7. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248
  8. ( https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1766147/ )
  9. Article 21 (https://www.Constitutionofindia.net/articles/article-21-protection-of-life-and-personal-liberty/ )
  10. Article 12 (https://www.constitutionofindia.net/articles/article-12-definitions/ )
  11. Article 19 (https://www.constitutionofindia.net/articles/article-19-protection-of-certain-rights-regarding-freedom-of-speech-etc/ )
  12. Article 20 (https://www.constitutionofindia.net/articles/article-20-protection-in-respect-of-conviction-for-offences/ )
  14. [2] Article 21: Protection of Life and Personal Liberty (2023) Constitution of India. Available at: https://www.Constitutionofindia.net/articles/article-21-protection-of-life-and-personal-liberty/ (Accessed: 05 June 2024).