Citing the fundamental right to privacy, the Goa government has asked the High Court of Bombay at Goa to dismiss a petition filed by a local activist urging the government to put in public domain the health status of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
In an affidavit, Chief Secretary Dharmendra Singh has stated that accepting the petitioner’s demands will set a “dangerous precedent, where everybody/anybody will start asking for all medical records of persons occupying high offices using the masquerade of ‘public interest’.”
The affidavit also pointed to the fiduciary relationship enjoyed by Parrikar and his doctors, which, it maintained, is outside the ambit of the petition.
The government’s response comes following an affidavit filed a month ago by Trajano D’Mello, a local activist, seeking Parrikar’s health status to be made public. D’Mello contended that the Chief Minister was not available to the public, as he is resting at home — he suffers from pancreatic cancer.
Singh’s affidavit pointed out actions taken by Parrikar in the last few months and stated that he “chairs regular cabinet meetings”. Since his return to Goa in October, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has released photographs of a cabinet meeting that took place at the CM’s residence.
Calling the petition “not maintainable”, Singh stated that he will not accept the claims that the government is in a state of “administrative collapse”.
The court will hear the matter next on December 10. The affidavit was filed on the third date given by the court, and the government cited the Chief Secretary’s official visit to Portugal as a reason for the delay in filing the response.
Singh’s affidavit states that “…merely because a person occupies high office does not mean that his fundamental rights are suspended…it depends on every individual and his family on whether and to what extent any personal information should be disclosed at all.” It states that “no person can be compelled to put out health details in the public domain…(and) it is well settled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India”.
According to the government, “…if a person is directed to disclose his health ailments to the public merely because he happens to be the chief minister, the same would be violation of Article 21 (Right to Life and Personal Liberty).”