Privacy is your fundamental right: Opposition hails verdict but Narendra Modi remains eerily silent

Even hours after the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court gave a historic verdict in the right to privacy case, the nation still awaits a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers.

FP Staff August 24, 2017 14:16:10 IST
Privacy is your fundamental right: Opposition hails verdict but Narendra Modi remains eerily silent

Even hours after the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court gave a historic verdict in the Right to Privacy case, the nation still awaits a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers.

While Modi was prompt in supporting the triple talaq verdict, calling it 'historic' just minutes after the ruling, he is yet to issue a statement on the Right to Privacy ruling of Thursday.

The only official response from the government has come from Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

"Narendra Modi government welcomes the judgment and it has been of the view, particularly with respect to Aadhaar, that Right to Privacy should be a fundamental right," Prasad said. "The Supreme Court has affirmed what the government had said in Parliament while moving the Aadhar bill. Privacy should be a fundamental right subject to reasonable restrictions," he said.

Opposition leaders, including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, have all come out in support of the landmark verdict.

"The Supreme Court judgment on 'Fundamental Right to privacy' heralds a new era for individual rights, personal liberty and human dignity. It strikes a blow on the unbridled encroachment and surveillance by the state and its agencies in the life of the common man," she said in a statement. The silence of the entire cabinet may be attributed to the visit of Nepal prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to India. While Modi has tweeted images with Deuba around the same time when the verdict was declared on Thursday, he has chosen to remain mum on right to privacy.

Not just Modi, Union minister Smriti Irani and Sushma Swaraj have also tweeted about Deuba's visit but nothing about the Right to Privacy verdict.

The silence of the government, barring a single statement from Prasad, raises questions on whether it will prove to be a major setback for the Centre and its Aadhaar scheme. Firstpost's financial editor Dinesh Unnikrishnan said that while it is unlikely that the verdict will spell an end for the scheme but the government will now have to reconsider the plan of making Aadhaar mandatory.

The aadhaar programme is more susceptible to questions through existing and fresh litigations following Thursday's verdict and the government will likely have to rework the entire scheme. Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan had remarked after the ruling, "The verdict on Thursday is a setback for the government."

Attorney General KK Venugopal and former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had argued in the Supreme Court during the hearing of the case that Right to Privacy is 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 considered a fundamental right," he told the bench. It remains to be seen if Modi or any of the other Union ministers will remark on the verdict anytime soon.

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