CITING THE “accomplishments” of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Goa government told a bench of the Bombay High Court that the mere diagnosis of cancer was not a sufficient argument to ask a Chief Minister to step down.
The comparison was drawn by State Advocate General, Dattaprasad Lawande, before the bench in Goa comprising Justice R M Borde and Justice Prithviraj K Chavan, who were hearing a petition filed by local politician Trajano D’Mello demanding an evaluation by a panel of doctors to probe if Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is fit to discharge his Constitutional obligations.
“Steve Jobs was diagnosed with the same pancreatic cancer. In fact, much of his accomplishments came after his diagnosis. Similarly, just the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, the same ailment as Steve Jobs, is not enough to ask the Chief Minister to resign from office,” Lawande said. Jobs succumbed to pancreatic cancer on October 5, 2011.
Lawande also referred to last year’s verdict by a nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, which declared Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right. “Right to privacy is a Fundamental Right. Supreme Court has said it, and we now have it… Merely because he is a chief minister , there is no where it says he cannot enjoy this ordinary right of a citizen,” he said.
“His medical status is his intimate, private right. How does administration collapse if his current medical condition is not conveyed to public?… We are not stating CM is immune, but asking the judiciary to look at Manohar Parrikar as a person,” Lawande said.
Lawande also alleged that the petition was filed by a local politician, who instead of first seeking the information through available safeguards like RTI, chose to knock directly on the doors of High Court, calling it a publicity driven, political agenda.
He said that all the allegations were backed by “press clippings” and not “credible matter”.
Referring to news clippings of the Revenue Minister alleging administrative irregularities, and an ally speaking of a “breakdown” in governance, Lawande said: “If the coalition partner says there is administrative breakdown, then go and ask them. If a revenue minister says he has stopped going to office as files are not moving, then he is blaming the administration not the chief minister,” he argued.
The petitioner’s lawyer Rohit Braz Dsa said the clippings were from press conferences held by ministers and allies. “The larger question we now ask is can the Chief Minister take the plea of privacy as a fundamental right over public immunity from his Constitutional discharge of obligations as the Chief Minister?” asked Braz Dsa. The bench has reserved judgment.