Posted on 13.02.18 by Ashwini Tallur
On 13.02.2018, the 5 Judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud, A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan continued hearing the Aadhaar Act case (Puttaswamy v UOI), to decide the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.
On the previous day of arguments (Day 9), Mr. Kapil Sibal had differentiated between Aadhaar as an identifying tool and as an authenticating tool and severely objected to the latter. He also cited various instances of denial of entitlements when certain persons’ identity could not be authenticated using Aadhaar.
Today, Mr Sibal resumed his arguments by discussing a similar national identity scheme in Israel where information could be used only for purposes for which it had been collected. Another way it differed from Aadhaar was that citizens had the choice of not being included in it. In addition there was a provision for deletion of data after a certain amount of time and the State had not been authorised to collect metadata. Thus, unlike Aadhaar, the Israeli State had taken steps to secure the data and rights of its citizens.
Mr Sibal read out paragraphs 300-304 of the Right to Privacy Judgment and proceeded to make his submissions:
Mr. Sibal concluded his arguments by stating that this was the most impactful case since ADM Jabalpur, as the choice of the State to either let its’ citizens have free choice or decide that it was the arbiter of choice would decide the course that the country took with respect to protecting fundamental rights.
Thereafter, Mr. Gopal Subramanium, representing the petitioners, began his arguments. He said that Aadhaar violated the core idea of dignity underlying the right to privacy. The Aadhaar bypassed and violated fundamental rights and this could not be allowed except in a state of emergency. By requiring continuous authentication, Aadhaar was prioritising a digital person over the real person. Aadhaar violated Article 14 of the Constitution, as denial of benefits would be decided by a computer or an algorithm instead of a person. The society needed accountability, but Aadhaar, not only struck down this accountability and disintermediated the state, but also enabled aggregation of data which ran counter to mobilisation. CJI Dipak Misra paraphrased Mr. Subramanium’s argument: Aadhaar makes a person an “un-person”.
The bench thereafter rose for the day and the matter will be next heard on 15.02.2018.
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