Mukul Rohatgi, who recently quit as the Attorney General in Narendra Modi government has implied that the Supreme Court’s verdict declaring right to privacy as a fundamental right was a setback to Centre.
He told Indian Express that if he would have conceded it as a defeat had he still been in job as the AG.
He said, “If I was there (as Attorney General), I would have said we have lost the case. As lawyers, we are used to winning and losing cases. Because the fact is, we haven’t won this case. The eight-judge bench has been overruled (an eight-judge bench had ruled in 1954 that the right to privacy cannot be a fundamental right) and the Aadhaar issue has been left unresolved. So where is the question of winning?’’
Rohatgi said that the Modi government should not have diluted its stand on privacy in the Supreme Court.
He said, “The government should not have diluted their stand in court because the inclusion or exclusion of fundamental rights is only the proviso of Parliament… Here, the judiciary is taking over the functions of Parliament and it is a very unsatisfactory resolution of the dispute.”
Last week, the Supreme Court’s nine-judges bench had unanimously ruled in favour of declaring the right to privacy as a fundamental right. An embarrassed central government, which had argued in the Supreme Court against it had quickly moved in to perform a U-turn saying that it was always in favour of right to privacy being declared as a fundamental right.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was badly trolled on social media, where users called him a liar.
Addressing a news conference in Delhi, Prasad, himself a law minister, had said, “Government welcomes the judgement. The government has been consistently of the view, particularly with regard to Aadhar that right to privacy should be a fundamental fight and it should be subject to reasonable restrictions.”
His claims came hours after a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy was a fundamental right. However, Prasad’s claims were in direct contradiction to what the Centre’s Narendra Modi government had told the apex court not long ago.
On 27 July, Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar that right to privacy was not a fundamental right.
“There is no fundamental right to privacy and even if it is assumed as a fundamental right, it is multifaceted. Every facet can’t be ipso facto considered a fundamental right,” Venugopal told the bench, which also comprised Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.