HC declines to vacate stay order on data collection of properties for Dharani

Telangana High Court on Wednesday declined to vacate the interim order staying collection of data with regard to non-agricultural properties in the State.

A division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy, after hearing contentions of parties in a batch of PIL petitions on Dharani portal, extended till December 3 the order staying collection of crucial data relating to Aadhaar card, caste and family for registration of non-agricultural properties.

The bench, while permitting collection of data connected to agricultural properties, raised several queries on registration of non-agricultural properties when Advocate General B.S. Prasad appealed for vacation of the stay order. It observed that the State government cannot compel a citizen to register details of private properties in Dharani portal.

“Can there be an element of compulsion,” the bench sought to know. If a citizen did not register details of his properties in Dharani portal, would he lose rights over the property and be barred from transferring the property to others. This would be violation of Article 300A of the Constitution, the bench remarked.

The bench also asked the AG about the Right to Privacy of a citizen when the latter’s crucial information like Aadhaar card and caste were being collected and uploaded online in Dharani portal. The AG informed the bench that already information pertaining to 97.58% of properties in rural areas was uploaded in Dharani portal. Nearly, 59.21 agricultural properties were recorded in village panchayats all over the State.

In GHMC area, 2.99 lakh property owners out of the 16.62 lakh had already given details of their properties. They too have been posted on Dharani portal. “What if even one percent of such massive data is breached,” the bench asked. It asked about the steps the government had taken to protect the data collected from the people.

Media reports said the government would not allow sale of even an inch of land unless details of those properties were uploaded in Dharani. This would be violation of law and the government can clarify in the media that no adverse remarks would be made against persons not registering details of their properties with Dharanin portal, the bench remarked.

The bench also wanted the government to assure people that the crucial data of citizens being uploaded on Dharani portal would not be breached, and all measures were taken to safeguard the same. When hackers sitting in Philippines can breach data of White House, Pentagaon and Buckingham Palace, similar situations might arise here as well, the bench noted. The CJ declined to accept the contentions of the AG that adequate firewalls were put in place and the entire TS State Technological department was monitoring the data. The AG also said apprehensions raised by petitioners about possible breach of data were based on misconception.

“The petitioners are not challenging government’s intention. But they are asking for streamlining and fast-tracking of collection of data and backing of the process by legislation,” the CJ said. The court was concerned with the security of the data collected from the people.

The pleas were posted to December 3 for next hearing.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 12:07:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/hc-declines-to-vacate-stay-order-on-data-collection-of-properties-for-dharani/article33182006.ece

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