Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the government should not have diluted its stand on privacy as a fundamental right, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. He said the verdict was an “unsatisfactory resolution” as the judiciary has encroached upon the Parliament’s duty of either including or excluding privacy as a fundamental right.
The Supreme Court on Thursday declared the right to privacy a fundamental right. The nine-judge bench unanimously ruled that the right to privacy was protected under Article 21 of the Constitution and is an “intrinsic part of life and personal liberty”.
Rohatgi, who quit his post in June before the nine-member Supreme Court bench was formed to hear the case, said that if he were still the attorney general, he would have admitted that this was a loss for the government. “The fact is, we haven’t won this case,” he said. The eight-judge bench, which had said privacy can’t be a fundamental right in 1954, has been overruled and there is no clarity on Aadhaar, so where is the question of winning, he asked.
Hours after the apex court verdict, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said it was not a setback to the Centre as the Narendra Modi-led government had been of the view that the “right to privacy should be a fundamental right”. When he was reminded that in May 2017, the attorney general had said citizens did not have “absolute right over their bodies”, Prasad said, “Whenever cases are argued, there is lot of banter, a lot of exchanges. But ultimately the core of the argument is noted in the judgement of the respective sides, and conclusion is reached.”
Rohatgi also told The Indian Express that the ruling could be used to add 20 more fundamental rights in a similar manner. “For example, there can be a challenge for the right of getting good medical treatment to be converted into a fundamental right. This is likely to open up a Pandora’s box,” he said.