Centre wants to make PowerPoint presentation on Aadhaar in SC

Centre wants to make PowerPoint presentation on Aadhaar in SC

The Supreme Court was told on Tuesday that the parting of personal biometric and demographic information by transgender persons and sexual minorities under the Aadhaar Act exposes them to "violence, surveillance and harassment by the State and private persons".

In its opening argument in support of the 12-digit unique identification number, attorney general K.K. Venugopal said the main objective of Aadhaar was entrenched in Article 21 (right to life) and aimed at curbing rampant corruption and poverty in the country.

During the day-long arguments, senior advocate C U Singh raised the issue of child rights and said that the children are legally unable to give free consent, they can not enter into a contract and yet they are asked to go for Aadhaar.

The Attorney General replied: "As far as privacy is concerned it is at the lowest level (of the fundamental right to life and liberty). How can you stop their pension?" the court asked the AG, who assured the court on behalf of the government that nobody would be denied benefits that are due to them that if authentication under Aadhaar failed.

Before Aadhaar, there was a massive pilferage through bogus ration cards and ghost beneficiaries and the right to dignity of the downtrodden was more important than right to privacy being espoused by a few NGOs and individuals, he said.

The court said it was not "so simple" and when people agreed to obtain Aadhaar, they did not accept to surrender their data for government use and moreover, the safeguards provided in the Act did not exist in 2010-2016. This line of argument did not find favour with the court who said that a constitutional challenge could not be tested against whether a person comes to court or not.

"The question of financial exclusion is undeniable".

The attorney general said that he would submit the same to the court and that the government would not leave anyone in the lurch.

The bench, however, said it will take a decision and asked him to initiate his submissions to counter the arguments, including that Aadhaar violated fundamental right to privacy.

Venugopal also tried to allay the fears surrounding the safety of data collected with an assertion that strict measures have been put in place to secure the data.

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