Dismissing a petition seeking medical examination of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s ailing health, the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court has reaffirmed that Parrikar has an individual right to privacy as an Indian citizen, stating any such public report will be “outrageous overstepping in the territory of privacy” and “impermissible in law”.
The court referred to the landmark Supreme Court judgment which held right to privacy as a fundamental right, as appealed by the state government’s Advocate General Dattaram Lavande.
In their order, Justices R M Borde and Prithviraj K Chavan said a constitutional functionary is not incapable to hold the position merely on account of ill health. They also respected the “fiduciary relationship” between Parrikar and his doctors, stating that a medical bulletin cannot be allowed.
A local politician Trajano D’Mello had moved court seeking a regular health bulletin, stating that the public has a right to know about the CM’s health condition and that Parrikar is incapable of running the state administration as he suffers from pancreatic cancer.
The court also came down on D’Mello, tagging his petition as “political interest litigation”, saying the “petitioner has not approached the court with clean hands”. “The halfhearted attempt of presenting the petition to make serious inroads in the territory of privacy of an individual is not at all appreciable”.
The judges said that D’Mello relied on newspaper reports to substantiate his claims that the administration was not in order and the CM was not the operative signatory in the state’s major decisions. “Absolutely no care has been taken by him to verify whether the allegation are true or false. The constitutional functionary, merely on account of his ill health, is not incapable to occupy the constitutional position which he occupies on account of his proven majority before the house of Legislature, and any individual who has rival political interest has to adopt a democratic method to unsettle the political power.”
“Reports in the newspapers cannot form a basis for claiming reliefs in a PIL… Unauthentic and unverified reports appearing in newspapers cannot be relied upon,” the order read.
The court also observed that strictly confidential information was sought without making Parrikar a respondent and his health status cannot be divulged “without his consent”. It said it was convinced by the Chief Secretary’s affidavit that the CM conducts regular cabinet meetings.
Over the last three days, Parrikar has made two public appearances with medical appendage. His office also announced a cabinet meeting at the chief minister’s house on Thursday.