‘It is unconstitutional and infringes on individual’s right to privacy’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to all the States asking for their response to a batch of petitions seeking a declaration that the Aadhaar scheme being implemented is unconstitutional.

A Bench comprising Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde had already restrained the Centre from issuing Aadhaar cards to illegal immigrants, and had made it clear that benefits should not be denied to anyone for non-possession of Aadhaar cards.

On Tuesday, the Bench issued notice to the States during the final hearing of the petitions filed by K.S. Puttaswamy, retired Judge of Karnataka High Court, and others, who alleged that the scheme was unconstitutional as the individuals obtaining Aadhaar number were required to part with personal information, such as biometrics, iris and fingerprints, which infringed on their right to privacy – part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Arguments will continue on December 10 after getting response from States.

Obtaining personal information

Appearing for Mr. Puttaswamy, senior counsel Shyam Divan submitted that there were no safeguards or penalties and no legislative backing for obtaining personal information, and the proposed legislation introduced by the government has been rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

Counsel also said the UID project was destructive; that action under the project of collecting personal information, even where the individual voluntarily agreed to part with biometric information, was ultra vires.

Mr. Divan argued that any action of the State which could impinge on an individual’s freedom must be backed by statute and the procedure adopted by the government was arbitrary as there was no informed consent of the individual. No individual was told about potential misuse of information, the absence of any statutory protection, and the commercial value of the information collected, he submitted, adding that there was the possibility of the information being sold to foreign countries by the private parties.