A five judge Constitution Bench led by CJI Dipak Misra on Wednesday took up all Aadhaar related petitions. A series of public interest cases, led by a batch of 27 petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme are being heard back-to-back.
On the first day, senior advocate Shyam Divan began the argument with an overview of his submissions for petitioners challenging the Aadhaar. He said the issue is complicated and the Supreme Court will have to get ready for a long haul.
Whether Aadhaar is violative of the abiding values of the Constitution and does it precipitates a future where the all-intrusive State does not recognise an individual but a number? This was the basis of Mr. Divan's argument.
At one stage, Justice Chandrachud asked if the state cannot compel citizens to part with biometrics in public interest, say to ensure right to education?
Here are the key takeaways from the argument against Aadhaar put forth by Mr. Divan:
"Aadhaar goads public to move away from a deterministic identity system to a probablistic one. Fingerprints do not match 100%. Depends on factors like pressure, sweat, growing up, angle. How can my entitlements u/the Constitution be made probablistic?"
"People behind Aadhaar thought biometric duplication cases would be only arnd 1000 in the entire country. That's 0.057% of the entire country. A Jan 15, 2017 RTI shows 6.23 crore cases of biometric duplication."
"With what they are doing with Aadhaar, you may not be able to continue as a resident of India."
"From 2009 to 2016, Aadhaar enrollment continued without a statutory regime. There was no free consent. There was no "opt out" option."
"The concept of 'eminent domain' does not extend to the human body. There is of course something called personal body autonomy."
"Whether citizens can be compelled to use their body as markers for identification."
"Aadhaar is a giant electronic mesh"
"Even quashing of the Aadhaar Act is not enough. Elements of Aadhaar will continue to operate through other laws like the Money Laundering Act."
"Petitioners are not elitists but those who have worked in the rural parts and found that Aadhaar is an instrument of exclusion."
"For a large number of the rural population the Aadhaar biometrics do not match because they are into manual work."
"The petitioners have worked with children. Aadhaar tethers them even before they reach the age of realisation"
"Nine-judge Bench which upheld the right to privacy completely rejected the govt's argument that the challenge against Aadhaar is elitist."
(This is a developing story and will be updated.)