After Ajay Bhushan Pandey, the CEO of UIDAI, made a PowerPoint presentation before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ on the technical and security aspects of Aadhaar in the last 2 days of the hearing, the petitioners submitted a list of questions based on the presentation. On Day 23 of the Aadhaar hearing, the Bench called upon Attorney General KK Venugopal to answer the said questions.
Below are the questions answered by the AG and the highlights of the Courtroom exchange on Day 23 of the Aadhaar hearing:
- Q: What are the statistics of authentication failures?
- AG: We cannot give a number because we don’t track this kind of information.
- Q: What about the biometrics exception?
- AG: There are other methods of authentication available like through mobile number. The QR code on Aadhaar card can also be scanned to get a person’s details, therefore, biometrics authentication is not the only way. Requesting entities have to provide exception handling measures. This is given in the Aadhaar Act, 2016 itself.
- Chandrachud and Sikri, JJ: We don’t know if the measures are being implemented on ground. Government will have to answer that at some point since UIDAI is only responsible for the architecture of Aadhaar. They cannot guarantee that there has been no denial of service.
- There is no opt out option for Aadhaar, even for children. Aadhaar was adopted to ensure that there are no fake identities. Aadhaar has strong de duplication detection system. 6.7 crores rejections have happened till now due to de duplication.
- Aadhaar is an evolving technology. And all other alternatives were considered for a period of ten years. The Act can always be amended and rectified. The Aadhaar project is one of a kind and has been praised all over the world.
- Aadhaar is a policy decision taken at the highest level of the Government, therefore, Courts should not interfere to determine its validity.
- The judges have, Privacy Judgment, agreed that privacy is not absolute. Privacy judgment lays down the three conditions under which privacy can be invaded and Aadhaar satisfies all three. These conditions are:
- There should be a legislation.
- Legitimate state aim.
- Aadhaar invades privacy as little as possible. We couldn’t have formulated a law so that there could be a lesser invasion of privacy. This is the least encroachment of privacy.
- Data protection expert Committee i.e. SriKrishna committee will submit it’s report by May 15.
- The State can always enforce reasonable restrictions to protect legitimate state interests.
- Privacy is nowhere described except in the dictionary. The court has to look at each individual case.
- Curbing black money, providing subsidies, benefits and services are legitimate state interests of the State.
- Right to live a life of dignity trumps right to privacy. Aadhaar in it’s initially stages was voluntary, therefore no one was coerced to enroll.
- Before the Privacy judgement, there was no way for the Government or the people to know there was a right to privacy.
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.