Terrorists, corrupt have no right to privacy — Law minister
New Delhi, Feb. 22 (PTI): Terrorists and corrupt people have “no right to privacy” and these people should not be allowed to abuse the internet, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Saturday.
Speaking at the inauguration of the International Judicial Conference 2020 – ‘Judiciary and the Changing World’, Prasad said it needs to be acknowledged that people who abuse the finest creations of humankind, one of which is the internet, pose the biggest threats.
He said the right to privacy has been held to be a fundamental right and the government appreciates that but “terrorists and the corrupt have no right to privacy because right to privacy has acquired critical proportion in the wake of digital landscape expanding globally”.
“This is the age of information and information is power. This is the age of communication and communication is power,” he explained.
The minister said the right to privacy verdict of the Supreme Court has become a beacon globally as it held that the right to privacy flows from Article 21 right to life and right to live with dignity.
Prasad also warned about the “sinister trend” of some people “unleashing all forces of criticism” if courts do not deliver judgments in line with their expectations.
“In a democracy, we welcome dissent, we welcome populism. But we have a problem when populism impinges upon the well-settled constitutional principles. And populism also becomes the problem when those rejected in the popular mandate becomes the biggest flag-bearers of populism,” he said.
According to the Constitution, Prasad said, it is clear that governance must be left to those elected to govern and they need to be accountable to Parliament, in many ways to judicial decisions, and to people in elections.
“But what is challenging is that populism is seeking to have a greater accountability as to what kind of judgments there should be. I am a great supporter of social media freedom. I know it is empowering but this (populism) is a dangerous trend. Judges must be left completely independent to give judgments…in accordance with the rule of law,” he said.
Prasad said the “sinister trend (of populism) is developing globally” and also in India, where people have started campaigning for the kind of judgment they expect.
“If a judgment is not in accordance with them, they unleash all forces of criticism,” he said, adding that the criticism of a judgment can be acceptable but criticising the judiciary is not appropriate.
Talking about gender justice, he said India is “very proud” that the Indian women are doing so well.
“You can see so many women judges sitting here of high courts and the Supreme Court, including chief justices. Our prime minister has taken a lead in empowering women in India by ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’. Educate the girl child, develop the girl child,” he said.
Prasad, who also holds the portfolio of the Information and Technology Ministry, said half of the four million people working in the sector are women.
“Our prime minister was bold enough to permit that women Indian Air Force pilot will also fly fighter planes and this was complimented by the recent judgment of the Supreme Court where Indian women Army officials were given the right to command. I think these are great initiatives of gender empowerment,” he said.
The Union minister, however, accepted that there exists the challenges of victimisation of women and young girls but said the government has responded to address the issue by making rape laws tougher and establishing more than 1,000 fast-track courts.
Rule of law fundamental feature of modern Constitutions — CJI
Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde said on Saturday that the most fundamental feature of majority of modern constitutions is the idea of the “rule of law”.
The Chief Justice, while speaking at the International Judges’ Conference on “Judiciary and the Changing World” at the Supreme Court, said a feature often neglected is a chapter on fundamental duties (in the Constitution) which imposes on every citizen the duties to abide by.
He said there are more than 50 countries in the world having specific provisions with regard to fundamental duties in their respective constitutions.
“At the heart of the Constitution is the individual whose rights are recognised as ‘fundamental’. These rights have been beautifully balanced with the demands of public order, morality and health,” the Chief Justice said.
He insisted that the Constitution also created a strong and independent judiciary, which is separated from the executive and the legislature. “We have strived at every turn, not just as a judicial institution, but also as a citizenry to keep these basic ideals intact,” he added.
Bobde said that right from 1950, the judiciary looked for inspiration from across the globe to find creative solutions to constitutional problems.
“In the first important case on fundamental rights, (A.K. Gopalan vs State of Madras), the Supreme Court quoted law from the American, Japanese, Irish, Canadian, Australian and English courts. Ever since, we have not shied away from looking for inspiration, wherever possible,” said the Chief Justice.
He also emphasised on the role of technology in the changing the world. “The Zeitgeist of our times has been incredible technological advancement,” he said.
“Judiciaries all over the world are dealing with this kind of change — what might be called a rights revolution, a technological revolution and a demographic revolution. Our decisions no longer impact only those who live in our jurisdiction, but also those who live in other jurisdictions, somewhere far away,” the Chief Justice said.
Speaking on the historical perspective of rule of law, the Chief Justice cited the 2,000-year-old history of Indian jurisprudence and said, “Before these cultures reached our shores, India had a well-established system of courts. The rules were all contained in the scriptures which prescribed a mandatory open hearing in courts, in the presence of officials of the court. For example, the Vyasa Smriti provides the various stages of a valid decision.”