Citizens forced to give personal info for Aadhaar, petitioners tell Supreme Court

People part with info for mobile connection, why not for Aadhaar: SC

Citizens forced to give personal info for Aadhaar, petitioners tell Supreme Court

Aadhaar challengers on Thursday told the Supreme Court that citizens were being coerced into giving all personal details to private operators without any safeguards and the government has failed to act as the ally of people to protect their right to privacy.

In a digitised world, the government has to be an ally of citizens and not their adversary and it must ensure that the privacy interests of citizens are protected against national and overseas corporations, senior advocate Shyam Divan submitted before a five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Hearing a batch of PILs led by former Karnataka High Court judge K S Puttaswamy, the bench, however, pointed out that people buying insurance policy from private companies and wanting mobile connections, part with all personal information.

"Here, the government has multiplied the options... the moment the government asks you to give proof of address and other details, you have a problem and you say 'sorry'," the bench said.

Divan, representing Puttaswamy, several activists Aruna Roy, Shantha Sinha and veteran CPM leader V S Achuthanandan, submitted that the state cannot compel its citizens to give personal information, that too, to a private company, as it violated their fundamental rights.

Referring to the legal position with regard to the national population census, he said it has been made clear that the personal and demographic details of citizens collected during census were being protected, but in case of Aadhaar, there was no such safeguard.

Divan said the private party was "so much outside the control of the Unique Identification Authority of India" that they can use it for their own commercial purposes.

"Moreover, there is no binding contract between the UIDAI and private agencies employed to collect biometric and other details for granting Aadhaar numbers," Divan said.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, put the matter pertaining to the constitutional validity of the government's flagship Aadhaar programme and its enabling act of 2016 for further consideration on January 23.

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