Right to privacy
THE unanimous judgment by the nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court recognising the right to privacy as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution is a historic one (Cover Story, September 15). Though the right to privacy was recognised as a fundamental right in some judgments, it was generally considered a common law right. This judgment has made it explicit that it is an integral part of the right to life and liberty granted by the Constitution.
The right to privacy, the government held, was an imported and elitist idea, too amorphous to be defined exactly. Besides, it was claimed that since it had been given statutory safeguards in various forms, there was no need to recognise it as a fundamental right. This judgment has set aside all such arguments. The Union government’s arguments to establish the validity of Aadhaar, saying privacy was not a fundamental right, have been undermined. Above all, other rights such as the right to food habits, the right to choice of dress, etc., will be protected, widening the space for freedom in the true sense of the term.
Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal
A PERSON’S right to privacy includes digital activities. Millions of Indians use social networking sites and search engines whose servers are located in the United States.
Apart from data protection laws, India also needs to enact a separate Act for the protection of the data of Indian citizens stored in countries such as the U.S. China and Russia have enacted data residency laws. The U.S. has laws for the protection of the data of its own citizens, but does not offer protection for data of non-U.S. citizens stored in the U.S. The U.S. government can access such data. Lobbyists in the U.S. can dig up digital data stored in servers in the U.S. to serve their vested interests.
Data is the new weapon for colonising nations. India has taken baby steps to protect the government’s digital data, Now, we need a law to protect the data of Indians stored in servers abroad. All cell phone makers should be put under the scanner, not just those from China or South Korea, to protect data on mobile phones and prevent their misuse.
Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai
THE Supreme Court’s judgment is a welcome one. The government can place reasonable restrictions on the grounds of national security, decency, etc. But what is “reasonable” is debatable, and one hopes that such restrictions will have a sound logic behind them and will not be used for narrow political gains.
M. Kumar, New Delhi
THE Supreme Court’s judgment declaring instant triple talaq unconstitutional is welcome (“Instant talaq illegal”, September 15). A country aspiring to be a superpower should shun religious obscurantism and regressive practices. Civil society should now initiate steps to ban age-old rituals/superstitions, such as bird/animal sacrifices in temples, that go on in the name of religion.
B. SURESH KUMAR, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
THE verdict on triple talaq brings hope to Muslim women and is a shot in the arm for women’s organisations such as the All India Democratic Women’s Association, which have fought for women’s rights. The ulema has a greater role to play as centuries-old conservative practices are revisited in the light of the verdict.
C. Chandrasekaran, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
70 years of freedom
THE editorial was a coolheaded, compact and comprehensive panoramic painting in prose of the seven decades of socio-economic polity after India won freedom from colonial rule in 1947 (September 1). The issue is a classic one, worth preserving as a souvenir. The foreign colonisers were not as deceptive and dangerous as the hidden leeches, jackals and foxes amongst us are. Our democracy is at a crossroads. Individual freedoms and human values are at stake.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim, Goa
CONGRATULATIONS on your remarkable Independence issue with its cogent analyses of the many things still lacking in India and the rise of the Right. There was, however,a noticeable gap. You did not examine the reasons for the abysmal failure of the Left, especially the two communist parties, to make any impact on the Indian economy and society.
Also, the caption for the Raj Kapoor/Nargis photograph on page 115 should have been “Shree 420”, not “Awara”.
Meghnad Desai, via email
IT is unfortunate that terms such as women’s freedom, sex ratio and reservation for women are just fancy vote-capturing mantras in this country even 70 years after Independence (“A silent struggle against inequality”, September 1). Although we glorify women in our language through the use of terms such as “motherland”, “Bharat Mata” and “mother tongue”, the reality is horrible for women in India.
A.J. Rangarajan, Chennai