The Aadhaar scheme Tuesday came under attack in the Supreme Court for exploiting people’s ignorance and collecting their personal details which can not only be exploited commercially and encroach upon their privacy but were liable to misuse by government agencies.
“The government will know each and every dimension of a Aadhaar card holder – be it his/her medical record, banking transactions or even the movement at the airports and that is where their right to privacy is breached,” senior counsel Shyam Divan told an apex court bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice M.Y.Eqbal.
Divan told the court that because of his Aadhar card, the central depositories of all agencies know all steps of his movements, his medical health records, bank records, all become available to the government agencies through the Aadhaar card number.
Divan, who appeared for the petitioner Justice (retd.) K.S. Puttaswamy, said the “government has manner and method of tracking a person that too without any statutory mandate.”
Justice Puttaswamy has contended that the entire Aadhaar scheme was unconstitutional as the biometric data collected under it was an incursion and transgression of individual privacy.
On his plea, the court had issued notice to all states Nov 26, 2013.
Taking exception to the entire scheme being run by a private body, Divan said: “We have somebody which is an entirely private body. They approach the (gullible) people, don’t tell them about their private status, seek demographic details of the people including their finger prints, facial photograph and that of iris including their bank account number.”
“What is wrong if someone voluntarily gives personal details,” the court asked Divan.
“Our order (of Sep 23, 2013) says it should not be forced and if that order is not being violated, then there is nothing wrong,” it observed.
Divan had had earlier argued that even if the Aadhaar scheme was voluntary, even then the government could not keep such personal data of the citizens as it violated article 14 and 21 of the constitution and would remain a coercive instrument in the hands of the government.
The court said that from the point of view of national security, the Aadhar card will be important as it can help to identify illegal immigrants.
The hearing in the matter will continue on Feb 11.