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Privacy and Women’s Rights

The right to privacy, as conceptualised in K Puttaswamy v Union of India, addresses many concerns that feminists have had with this right. Applied logically and robustly, this judgment has the potential to transform the landscape of women’s entitlements under the law.

In K Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017a), a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and that, at its core, it means the “right to be let alone.”1 But the right to be let alone when, where, by whom, and in relation to what?

As conceived in Anglo–Saxon jurisprudence, the right to privacy initially focused on protecting “private” spaces, such as the home, from state interference on the belief that “a man’s home is his castle” and he exercises sovereign power within that space (Peter Semayne v Richard Gresham 1604). Subsequently, court decisions expanded this right to protect intimate relationships, such as the family and marriage, from state intervention (Griswold v Connecticut 1965). More recently, the right to privacy has been understood—including in the Puttaswamy case—as protecting individual autonomy by preserving a person’s bodily integrity, as well as her autonomous decision-making capacity.

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Updated On : 27th Dec, 2017

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