Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday claimed that his government at the Centre was always of the view that the ‘right to privacy should be a fundamental right.’
The nine judges unanimously overruled the two earlier judgements of the apex court that right to privacy is not protected under the Constitution. The bench overruled the MP Sharma verdict of 1950 and that of Kharak Singh of 1960.
The judgement in the Kharak Singh case was pronounced by eight judges and in M P Sharma it was delivered by six judges. Justice Khehar, who read the operative portion of the judgement, said the subsequent verdicts pronounced after M P Sharma and Kharak Singh have laid down the correct position of the law.
Before pronouncing the judgement, the CJI said that among the nine judges some of them have authored different orders.
Addressing a news conference in Delhi, Prasad, himself a law minister, 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.
Watch Prasad’s full pres conference below
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.
An overwhelming majority of analysts felt that today’s Supreme Court verdict had left the Modi government incredibly red-faced delivering a huge setback to its stand on the issue of right to privacy. Such was the embarrassment that PM Modi, who was quick to comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Triple Talaq, did tweet anything on today’s historic judgement.
Prasad sought to hide his government’s embarrassment by claiming that right to privacy was never absolutely and it came with reasonable restrictions, thereby making their ‘stand’ vindicated.
However, what he did not say was that every fundamental right came with reasonable restriction as it was never absolute.
His comments instantly evoked sharp reactions from social media users, who reminded him about what his government’s attorney general had told the Supreme Court.
Here are some of the reactions;
How can you say that? a memory loss? Is this level of blatant lying U- turning part of the BJP work process? https://t.co/taJZ8Y8zSL
— Sanjukta Basu (@sanjukta) August 24, 2017
Also note to gushy cheerleaders Modi govt had actually told the court that citizens did not have right to privacy. #RightToPrivacy
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) August 24, 2017
Huh! Why was your AG opposing right to privacy ? Trying to save face, eh ? https://t.co/5Y8nFGF2Ec
— Arvind Jha (@jalajboy) August 24, 2017
sir then who was the petitioner fighting against??? ??
— Arnaz Hathiram (@Milkyway1955Z) August 24, 2017
A blatant lie like this deserves at least one resignation, Mr. Prasad.
— Sachin Tandon (@cugwmui) August 24, 2017
कितना झूठा बोलोंगे pic.twitter.com/LLzEgRj00R
— Shubham Amdhare (@shubhamamdhare) August 24, 2017
Kitna besharam ho yaar. Tera attorney general bola ki hamari body pe bhi hamara adhikar nahin. #RightToPrivacy BJP ki haar hai. Accept it.
— B (@bullishness_) August 24, 2017