Home English Aadhaar contradicts the role of the state, say petitioners challenging scheme.
The Aadhaar scheme contradicts the role of the state as the custodian of the citizens’ fundamental right of privacy. A duty is cast on the government and its agencies to protect the citizen’s crucial personal data from commercial exploitation by private corporates, petitioners challenging the scheme submitted in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Referring to the nine-judge Bench judgment which upheld privacy as a fundamental right, senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocate Vipin Nair submitted before a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra that Aadhaar enrolment and subsequent leakages of personal mass datashow that the state itself is exploiting personal rights of individuals by giving it to private corporates who use it for commercial ends. In a case where the private rights of an individual are exploited, it is the duty of the state to protect him from private enterprises, Mr. Divan argued.
“The state is empowered with a ‘switch’ by which it can cause the civil death of an individual. Where every basic facility is linked to Aadhaar and one cannot live in society without an Aadhaar number, the switching off of Aadhaar completely destroys the individual,” Mr. Divan submitted for the petitioners.
The Aadhaar enrolment has seen the state delegate “sensitive and exclusive sovereign” functions to private contractors and agencies. None of these private agencies which enrol citizens and collect their personal data have any agreement with the UIDAI, Mr. Divan submitted.
When Justice A.M. Khanwilkar observed that the Aadhaar Act of 2016 would protect fundamental rights, Mr. Divan responded that crores of citizens had already been enrolled between 2009 and 2016, when the Act came into existence, and fundamental rights could not be protected retrospectively. He said there was no audit check of these private collection agents to whom the UIDAI had outsourced the work of personal data collection for years prior to the Act.
In an illustration of how Aadhaar has become an instrument of exclusion, Mr. Divan related how a couple could not register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act as the authorities insisted on Aadhaar.