The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was committed to freedom of choice and the right to privacy of citizens and was in the process of coming out with a regulatory regime on data protection.
"At the outset, the central government is committed to freedom of choice and right to privacy of citizens. This is non-negotiable and we are committed for this," Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta told a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
"We are already in the process of doing it (regulatory regime)," he told the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, Amitava Roy, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar.
"The issue would be that the statute and the Act, which is in consonance with the Constitution, requires that you have a regulatory regime. You say you are in the process. Once you are in the process and the citizen feels my rights are affected, what is the role of the court," the bench asked.
"Can a private corporate say that even if I affect or dent the fundamental rights of the citizen in absence of a regulation, the court cannot do it by issuing a writ," the bench asked Mehta, adding that till the time the regulatory regime comes into force, what kind of protection the court can grant.
Responding to the query, Mehta said a private entity cannot say that a writ petition for appropriate direction would not lie. "If people at large are affected, they cannot say so," he said.
The bench, however, asked "they say they are doing a business. They say they are trading in right to information, right to choice and right to knowledge. What kind of right is this?"
The law officer, however, said these private entities have to adhere to the directions given by the court.
On the issue of maintainablity of the plea, the Centre said the government was committed to ensure freedom of choice of the subscribers.
"So far as maintainability qua Union of India is concerned, we are always amenable to the court order. Qua us, the petition is maintainable," he said.