ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

A Healthy Dose of Privacy

The Supreme Court’s privacy judgment has important implications for the right to health, especially the protection of health information. The standards that laws will have to meet to impose restrictions on such protection are examined. In this context, the HIV/AIDS Act, 2017, the implications of a data protection law for health, and the unconstitutionality of mandatorily requiring Aadhaar to obtain treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis are discussed. 

The author is grateful to Shankar Narayanan for his inputs.

The almost academic nature of the Supreme Courts judgment on the right to privacy in K Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017a) means that its practical implications will continue to be dissected until they fill several volumes. One of the most important impacts of the judgment is on health, and this article discusses its implications for the scope of the right and the extent to which it is to be balanced with other interests. Justice R F Narimans opinion highlights at least three aspects of the right to privacy, each of which has particular significance for health: privacy relatable to the physical body; informational privacy, vesting individual control over the dissemination of personal information; and the privacy of choice, granting individual autonomy over personal choices (K Puttaswamy v Union of India 2017c: para 81).

At various places, the judgment offers examples of the link between issues concerning health and the three aspects of privacy mentioned above. Justice J Chelameswar provides an example of bodily privacy by recognising that the refusal of life-prolonging medical treatment falls within the zone of the right to privacy (K Puttaswamy v Union of India 2017d: para 38). Justice D Y Chandrachud states that a reasonable expectation of privacy attaches to medical information (K Puttaswamy v Union of India 2017b: para 177), while personal reproductive choices, which have obvious implications for health, are also recognised to be at the core of the idea of privacy (K Puttaswamy v Union of India 2017b: part 3, para 3F).

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Or

To gain instant access to this article (download).


Pay
INR 59

(Readers in India)


Pay
$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 22nd Dec, 2017

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.