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The Aadhar case

By November 12, 2015 December 20th, 2019 One Comment
JUSTICE
K.S. PUTTASWAMY (Retd.) & ANR. V/S UNION OF INDIA & ORS., ORDER DATED
11.08.2015

SUBJECT
– CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
Aadhaar Card or Unique Identification
Number (UID) is a 12 digit identification code issued to the citizens of India
on behalf on the Government of India. The card and the identification number on
it is the proof of the identity and address of the individual it has been
issues to anywhere in the country. Once a person, who is a resident of India,
satisfies the verification process as laid down by the Unique Identification Authority
of India or UIDAI, the card is granted. However the process of verification and
application for the Aadhaar Card involves biometric data capture which includes
capturing a digital print of facial image, the iris of the applicant and
fingerprints. A writ petition was filed by Justice (Retd.) K.S. Puttaswamy
before the Hon’ble Supreme Court to decide whether this capture and record of
personal data recorded by the UIDAI in the biometric examination amounts to
violation of the right to privacy.
Brief Facts
1.       
Justice (Retd.) Puttaswamy (“Petition”) has challenged the Aadhar
Card Scheme on various grounds. One of his main contentions is that the
collection of biometric data of the said Scheme violates the “right to
privacy”. At the time of application of the Aadhaar Card, an applicant has to
provide his biometric data. The Petitioner provides that this is a violation of
Article 21 of the Constitution of India which grants “right to Privacy” as a
fundamental right through various decisions of the Apex Court.
2.       
Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of
India, who appeared on behalf of one Respondent, before the three judge Bench
of the Hon’ble Supreme Court brought two case laws on the subject to the
attention of the Court; M.P. Sharma &
Ors. V. Satish Chandra & Ors.[1]
And
Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. & Ors,[2] an
eight and six judge Bench decision of the Court, respectively. In both of these
cases, the Supreme Court has been doubtful about the position of “right to
privacy” as a fundamental right. Further Mr. K.K. Venugopal, appearing on
behalf of another Respondent, pointed out that the decisions of the apex court
relied upon by the Petitioner have been made by a bench of two or three judges.
Thus, due to this divergence in opinion, the Attorney General and Mr. Venugopal
requested the Hon’ble Court to settle the legal position of the matter by
placing it to be heard before a larger Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
3.       
This larger Bench of the Supreme Court
will have to determine whether the Constitution guarantees “right to privacy”
as a fundamental right under Article 21 and decide the nature as well as scope
of such a right.
Issue
for Consideration
The main
issues for consideration were:-
1.       
Whether “right to privacy” is
guaranteed in the Part III of Constitution of India/
2.       
Whether the present matter, owing to
the precedents of the Court, be heard by a larger Bench?
Decision
of the Court
1.            
The Supreme Court recognized that the
present case raises questions of far reaching importance involving
interpretation of the Constitution of the precious and inalienable right to
liberty under Article 21.
2.            
The Court was of the opinion that
keeping in mind the institutional integrity and judicial disciple required, the
matter needs to be referred to a larger Bench of the Court owing to the
apparent unresolved contradiction in the law declared by the Court.
3.            
In its interim order dated 11th
August, 2015, the Court was of the opinion that keeping in view the possibility
of commercial exploitation of biometric information of individuals and at the
same time considering the benefits 
ensured by the Aadhaar Scheme in several social benefit schemes of the
Government like MGNREGA, PDS system and distribution of LPG, restraining the
respondents in issuing further Aadhaar cards will not be necessary. The Court
said that the balance of interest will be best served by a larger bench,
however the following directions were issued to the UIDAI:
·               
“The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the
electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is
not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;
·               
The production of an Aadhaar card will
not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;
·               
The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not
be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in
particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking
fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of
the LPG Distribution Scheme;
·               
The information about an individual
obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an
Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as
may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.”

The matter has been referred to be heard by a larger
Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court


[1] AIR 1954 SC 300
[2] AIR 1963 SC 1295

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