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Supreme Court has its plate full with Constitutional Matters this July

July 4,2017:

Petition questioning legality of WhatsApp’s privacy policy is also to be decided.

Supreme Court

July will be a busy month for Supreme Court after it reconvenes after a long summer recess. Only two vacation benches sat during the break since May 17 to deal with the urgent matters.

Up for the hearing are a few key Constitution Bench matters such as the legality of the WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy and the 1985 Amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, setting different cut-off dates for the settlers in Assam and the Rest of India to be eligible for the Indian citizenship.

Latter is an emotive case as it allows the deemed Indian citizenship to those who migrated into Assam from the East Pakistan (Bangladesh) before January 1, 1966, provided they have been ordinarily Resident in State.

WhatsApp Case involves a challenge to Company’s New Privacy Policy post its acquisition of the Facebook as violative of a citizen’s Right to Privacy. Those opposed to new policy have alleged that Company, which has 200 million users in India, shares its data with the Facebook.

WhatsApp has denied any such sharing policy and dared those who have such apprehensions to quit popular social media app.Apex Court’s five-judge Bench is expected to rule on this issue.

Other important case to be listed for hearing for the Regular Bench for interim relief will be contentious Aadhaar case.

Though Constitution Bench is yet to be convened to examine intricacies of involuntary nature of the Government’s Aadhaar scheme, in the interim a smaller bench will grapple with the demands of the naysayers to keep the Unique Identification Number voluntary till the larger bench takes a call on its legality.

In examining the Case, Top Court will have to venture into another legal minefield whether citizens enjoy a Fundamental Right to Privacy. Before this case, it was taken for granted that a citizen does have an absolute right to the privacy although it wasn’t clearly spelt out.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s stand that the citizens do not have an absolute right over their bodies forced Apex Court to refer issue to the larger bench, possibly the Seven-Judge Bench.

That is yet to be constituted and Court has task of making an interim arrangement that would not hinder the Centre’s Developmental Goals while taking care of the concerns raised by the Activists about all-encompassing surveillance inherent in the scheme.

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