Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan, who had begun his submissions on Day 33 of the Aadhaar hearing, continued with his submissions before he 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ on day 34 of the Aadhaar Hearing.
Below are the highlights from Day 34 of the Aadhaar Hearing:
- Chandrachud, J: Aadhaar section 7 seeks to identity the beneficiaries that require subsidies. It doesn’t take away other forms of identity.
- Aadhaar is a number which helps identify people who need subsidies. Many don’t need that identity.
- I support Aadhaar for the control, security and safeguards it provides but Section 139aa of the Income Tax Act takes away those. “Individual Income tax pan holders (non corporates)” are targeted by the State via Aadhaar. With respect to financial scams, the problem was dummy companies, not individuals. Yet companies are not targeted.
- For the purposes of Income tax, Aadhaar is mandatory, there’s no informed consent, and it is not related to Consolidated fund of India. Therefore proportionality test fails.
- If the aim was curbing black money and preventing money laundering, then linking pan with individual Aadhaar holders doesn’t achieve that purpose. Therefore there’s no proportionality.
- Indian law journal: users guide to privacy says Obfuscation is a technique by which privacy can be kept intact. It gives up on trust between individual and states though. Petitioners have a valid ground of lack of trust
- “Identification of targeted beneficiaries” is key. Aadhaar is voluntary. It can be used as “proof of identity” for someone who doesn’t need subsidies.
- Section 5 enjoins UIDAI to take special measures for vulnerable groups. It proves there is an element of discharge of obligation by the State.
- The constitution lays down that any penny from the CFI has to go to the person for whom it was earmarked. It is an onerous obligation on the state. Aadhaar attempts to ensure, with the use of biometric authentication, that this obligation is dispersed.
- If Aadhaar becomes the universal identity card replacing all other identity documents which were initially required to get an Aadhaar, then it is a concern.
- Aadhaar identification is as secure and foolproof as one of the eighteen proof of identities taken at the time of enrollment because of the voluntary nature of section 7, there is balance in Aadhaar act, unlike Section 139aa wherein there’s no balance.
- Chandrachud, J: Section 7 is not voluntary. Someone who wants subsidies will have to have Aadhaar.
- Aadhaar Act subserves articles 253 and 266(3) of the Constitution along with fundamental rights.
- We don’t need the least restrictive test to show proportionality. Trust CIDR with my data.
- Safeguards, balances and limitations provided under the Aadhaar Act makes it proportional.
- National informatics centre runs both Supreme court website and UIDAI. SC website was hacked a few days ago.
- UIDAI needs to plug the holes in the Aadhaar system before rushing with it. Aadhaar is not being able to keep up with technology.
- Aadhaar has protection under the Aadhaar act and Section 43A of the IT Act, along with SPDI rules.
- Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul:
- If Aadhaar is a reliable, speedy tool for identification and authentication, then there’s no reason to hold it invalid.
- Aadhaar authentication has made life easier for women in villages, migrants, etc.
- Microfinance institutions will have a larger reach by virtue of Aadhaar and predatory financing will reduce.
- Private players are also governed by the Act. Give private players the choice to use Aadhaar if they want since section 57 is an enabling provision under the Aadhaar Act.
- Chandrachud, J: The need for verification should not be decided by private players.
- The bench can make Privacy and data security regulations as stringent as possible. But as long as the private player and customer have consensus on using Aadhaar, it shouldn’t be disallowed as Aadhaar is the most effective and powerful tool for verification.
- Aadhaar is based on matching algorithms, not learning ones like Google and Facebook.
- I request the bench to not exclude AUAs and KUAs from using Aadhaar for their businesses. Merely because there’s a scope of misuse, a statute cannot be struck down.
- Location of AUA and KUA is not revealed, so there’s no question of surveillance.
- Advocate Zoheb Hossain:
- Socio economic rights are justiciable rights, the SC has held in the past. Article 56 of UN charter talks about inter-relation between socio economic and civil political rights. Positive obligations of the State like food, shelter etc are embedded in Article 21.
- In this case, the bench is balancing interference with the right to Privacy which is the numerator and denominator is the socio economic rights of the people. It is not just a case where part IV requirements are being read.
To read the highlights from the PowerPoint Presentation made by the CEO of UIDAI, click here.
To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, CU Singh, Sanjay Hegde and Counsel Jayna Kothari, click here.
To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates KV Viswanathan and Anand Grover, click here.