New Delhi: Shyam Divan, lawyer for the petitioners challenging Aadhaar, highlighted a previous stand taken by its enrolment body, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which had denied tracking people or using their personal data for state surveillance.
“Neither UIDAI nor any agency or department will be able to use Aadhaar to track or surveil. A user department of the government or agency will only have information pertaining to its own domain. There will be no 360-degree view of an individual," Divan said, citing the affidavit by UIDAI.
The submissions were being made before a constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices D.Y. Chandrachud, A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan.
“The whole point as Aadhaar stands today seems to be to store and integrate information for a 360 degree view, which is what UIDAI had specifically denied on affidavit," Divan added.
With regards to UIDAI storing and using information, justice Chandrachud observed that if the government was confining itself to social welfare benefits, and checking if people receiving benefits are alive or not, and not profiling political beliefs, can’t it have a legitimate concern in ensuring that the identity of beneficiaries is maintained?
Concern could not justify aggregation of personal data and the way it was being used, Divan responded.
A total of 31 petitions have been tagged by the Supreme Court to be heard by the Constitution bench. They challenge several aspects of Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identity number that has become a bedrock of government welfare programmes, the tax administration network and online financial transactions, and the use/sharing of personal data collected by the UIDAI.
The case will be heard next on 1 February.