Aadhaar data leaked, but not from UIDAI, Centre informs SC

Aadhaar data leaked, but not from UIDAI, Centre informs SC

Maintaining that no technology is foolproof, the Centre on Wednesday admitted before the Supreme Court that Aadhaar card holders’ data was leaked.

The Union government, however, asserted that the leak was not from the UIDAI’s end. A batch of petitions against the decision to link PAN with Aadhaar cards in filing Income-Tax returns, however, questioned the move, saying it was in complete collision due to repeated claims by the government that Aadhaar is
voluntary.

Advocate Arghya Sengupta, arguing for the Centre, submitted before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that the leakage was by various other government departments and state agencies. He said the leakage could have occurred on account of lack of balancing transparency and data protection concerns.

His response came as the bench cited reports in the newspapers on Wednesday about leakage of Aadhaar data. The counsel said there could be some errors here and there, but the UID remains the most sophisticated and authentic biometric system.

He said that the legislature was competent to enact Section 139AA, which was inserted in the Income Tax Act under the Finance Act, 2017. “There is no absolute right to informational self-determination,” Sengupta said.

“The issue was not about discriminating between people on the basis of their having Aadhaar, but the purpose for UID was to prevent duplication and to ensure targeted delivery of services to the identified sections,” he said.

He said the government may replace PAN with Aadhaar if such a need arises. During the hearing, the bench asked, “...in a tax regime, one cannot say that he will not pay tax. The question is, a person is ready to pay tax, whether he can say that I will pay tax in the manner I want.”

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, said the Centre cannot wash its hands off by saying that UIDAI was not leaking data. “The law says life and body is paramount and if the fingerprints of an individual are stolen, it might end his identity,” he said. The arguments will continue on Thursday.
DH News Service

Govt arguments
Leakage by govt departments, state agencies
UID sophisticated, authentic biometric system
May replace PAN with Aadhaar if need arises
Legislature competent to amend I-T act

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