Aadhaar may cause ‘death of citizens’ civil rights’: Supreme Court

Aadhaar cards
Centre justifies Aadhaar Act in the Supreme Court: Says it a fair and reasonable law

New Delhi, Jan 17: The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday told that sharing Aadhaar data may cause the death of the civil rights of citizens.

The observation of the apex court cames during the hearing of the matter related to the constitutional validity of linking Aadhaar card to a number of government schemes, on Wednesday.

“Aadhaar may cause death of citizens’ civil rights. A people’s Constitution is being sought to be converted into a State’s Constitution,” senior Supreme Court lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners said.

The matter related to the constitutional validity of Aadhaar is heard by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

The five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and four other judges Justices AM Khanwilkar, Adarsh Kumar Sikri, D.Y.Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan is hearing a number of petitions filed challenging the validity of the identification number.

In August last year, a nine-judge bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had also claimed it violated privacy rights.

There have been many doubts regarding the possibility of leakage of data leading to a breach in the privacy of people.

The top court has also received petitions regarding the linkage of this 12-digit number with mobile phones, bank accounts and so on, the last date for which was extended to March 31 this year.

While data breach has been widely debated in the recent past, the government had refuted all claims of the same.

A recent report in The Tribune had exposed the fact that the Aadhaar database could be essentially bought on the internet only for Rs 500. UIDAI then filed an FIR against Tribune reporter Rachna Khaira for her report that unknown agents had provided her access to Aadhaar’s demographic database for Rs 500.

After this, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) decided to enable ‘Face Authentication’ infusion mode on registered devices by July 1, so that people facing difficulty in other existing modes of verification such as fingerprints, iris, and one-time-password (OTP) could easily authenticate.

On November 2, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act. Karnataka-based Mathew Thomas had moved the top court challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act claiming that it infringes upon the Right to Privacy and the biometric mechanism was not working properly.