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Hardik Patel ‘sex CD’: Should parties indulge in dirty tricks for votes?

It is only in August that a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right and linked privacy with human dignity and preservation of personal intimacies. It said invasion of privacy will have to be justified against the standard of a “fair, just and reasonable” procedure. By this standard, invading Patel’s privacy and circulating the videos are not just morally unjust but also illegal.

editorials Updated: Nov 15, 2017 17:56 IST
Hindustan Times
Hardik Patel,Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti,Hardik Patel sex CD
Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti convener Hardik Patel in Ahmedabad on October 11, 2017(PTI)

For politicians, elections bring many challenges. Not only do they have to convince an increasingly difficult-to-please electorate about the merit of their candidacy, but also they must keep a sharp eye on what the dirty tricks department of opposing parties can do upset their plans or malign them. On Monday, Patidar leader Hardik Patel found himself at the receiving end when TV channels showed a man who looked like Patel with an unidentified woman, fully clothed and with her back to the camera, in an alleged “sex video”. While his supporters claimed the video is morphed, Mr Patel said that he expected such dirty tricks to surface before the elections. Three more clips emerged on Tuesday (the authenticity of which could not be verified), showing him with a woman in a room. They are accompanied by two other men, allegedly co-conveners of the Patel-led outfit Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti. Expectedly, a hashtag — #HardikExposed — did the rounds, though nothing had really been exposed. It is not a crime for two adults to be in a room. Moreover, there was no evidence of anything illegal happening. Mr Patel is a key player but is not contesting the Gujarat assembly polls.

This case again brings to the forefront the issue of privacy and how its limits are breached so frequently in India. While the ruling party, the BJP, has been quiet on the tapes, some of their supporters want the videos released. This demand is odd because when a similar incident happened recently in Chhattisgarh — a journalist was in possession of a video involving a BJP leader — he was accused of extortion and blackmail, and arrested. When people protested against the arrest, Raipur’s Inspector General of Police said the confiscated CDs could malign the reputation of a person and hence the arrest was made immediately.

The same logic should be applied in Patel’s case too, and those circulating a video must be traced and arrested immediately. At the very least, TV channels must be asked to stop showing them. This is a private matter and it should be left at that. It is this August that a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right and linked it with human dignity and preservation of personal intimacies. It clearly said that invasion of privacy will have to be justified against the standard of a “fair, just and reasonable” procedure. By this standard, invading Patel’s privacy and circulating the videos are not just morally unjust but also illegal.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 17:44 IST