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  • Dhiraj Kumar Saw

Case Analysis: Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs. Union of India and Ors. (2017) 10 SCC 1

Author: Dhiraj Kumar Saw,

University law college Hazaribagh, (VBU) Jharkhand

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs. Union of India and Ors.


This is a landmark case which is also known as the Aadhaar case. This case is related to the Aadhaar project. Under this project, Indian citizens have to establish a biometric identity. In this case, questions were raised on data security and privacy rights and the collection of personal information.

Fact of This Case:-

In 2009, a project was started by the Government of India named Aadhaar Project. Under this project, it was started to provide a special type of 12-digit number based on the biometric and demographic data of Indian citizens, the first objective of which was to provide social services. To streamline the distribution and distribution of various welfare benefits as well as reduce corruption and fraud. When this project gained momentum, people started facing various types of challenges and data security became the biggest challenge for the concerned people. Many believe that collecting biometrics and demographics poses a threat to people's privacy and can lead to privacy abuse. Many petitions have been filed regarding the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar project, the most important of which was filed by K.S. Puttaswamy, a former judge of the Karnataka High Court.

Issue Raised in This Case:-

In this case, the following issues were placed before the court which were as follows:-

  1. Is the fundamental right to privacy given in Article 21 being violated by the Aadhaar project?

  2. Does the Aadhaar Project have adequate safeguards to protect against misuse of data and protection of right to privacy?

  3. Does the Aadhaar project guarantee that other fundamental rights of the Constitution such as freedom of expression and non-discrimination violate the right to equality?

  4. Does the collection of biometric and demographic responses given by citizens of India violate the privacy rights of an individual under the Aadhaar project?


This case involves the following provisions of the Indian Constitution:

  1. Article 14:- Right to equality.

  2. Article 15:- Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, or place of birth.

  3. Article 16:- Equality of opportunity in matters of public

  4. employment.

  5. Article 19(1)A:- Freedom of speech and expression.

  6. Article 21:- Protection of life and personal liberty.

  7. Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016:- It provides the legal framework for the government of India to implement the Aadhaar project through legislation.

Information Technology Act, 2000:- For India, this law is a primary law that deals with matters like e-commerce and cybercrime. It approves electronic transactions and electronic commerce through the law to prevent cybercrime and e-governance is enabled.

Petitioner's Argument:-

  • The Petitioner said fundamental rights are being violated under the Aadhaar project which is a part of the right to privacy and is protected under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

  • Linking people to Aadhaar so that they can avail of various schemes and services has become a compulsion for the people. To link Aadhaar, people have been forced to give up their privacy.

  • There is a possibility of people's data and identity being leaked from the Aadhaar project due to which people will lose trust in the system.

  • The Petitioner cited various cases including M.P. Sharma vs. Satish Chandra and Ors. of 1954 (eight-judge bench) and Kharak Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh of 1962, (five-judge bench) which held that the right to privacy is an important part of personal liberty.

Respondent's Argument:-

  • The Respondent said that it is necessary to create an Aadhaar to make government benefits accessible to the people and reduce fraud.

  • The right to privacy has been recognized as a common law right as it is not clearly defined in the Indian Constitution.

  • There have been very few incidents of leakage of Aadhaar data so far and strict security measures are being taken to secure Aadhaar data.

  • The respondent argued that for social welfare, national security and if the government brings a scheme for the people then it should be made available to the general public as soon as possible.

Judgment of this case:-

The Supreme Court of India delivered its verdict on 24 August 2017 by a bench of nine judges. The Supreme Court said in the decision that the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. The court acknowledged that personal privacy is an integral part of personal development. While giving the verdict, the court emphasized that the right to personal liberty is part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The right to privacy has not been fully defined within the Indian Constitution. It is important to keep dates safe and privacy-protected. States must strike a balance between individual privacy, especially in this digital age. The Supreme Court did not completely cancel the Aadhaar project but imposed important safeguards and restrictions on the project.

The Court upheld the validity of the Aadhaar project but made some important observations and amendments which are as follows:-

  • Aadhaar violates people's privacy rights, hence Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for participating in all examinations.

  • The government will have to take strict steps to protect people's privacy and Aadhaar data.

  • In the Aadhaar project, it is necessary to obtain the consent of the people while collecting their biometrics and demographics.

  • The kind of powers given to the state government under the Aadhaar project such as collecting and using data. There should be checks and balances on such powers so that data is never misused.


Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs. Union of India and Ors. this was a landmark case as it had a significant impact on people's right to data protection privacy and the use of biometric data in government functions. The decision of this case recognized the right to freedom as a part of the fundamental right which provides legal protection to Indian citizens. Especially in this digital age. While upholding the validity of the Aadhaar, the court also imposed stringent safeguards to safeguard people's personal privacy and data security and put the necessary emphasis on checking the power of the state because the state government had all powers to collect and use data under the Aadhaar project.

Therefore, it is very important to balance the powers of the state government. The decision of this case had a huge impact on the protection law on people's data and privacy rights in India. At the same time, it was added that there should be a good relationship between the people and the government, and emphasis was laid on creating a balance between the fundamental right of the people and efficient administration of the government.

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