On Day 25 of the Aadhaar Hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal continued arguing before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ on the safety aspect of biometrics.
Below are the highlights from Day 25 of the Aadhaar Hearing:
- AG: Finger imaging technology is 99.9% accurate. Biometrics is a very safe and accurate technology and can solve problems such as money laundering, bank frauds, income tax evasion etc.
- Sikri, J: Bank frauds weren’t caused because of multiple identities.
- Chandrachud, J: Aadhaar will not prevent an individual from operating layers of commercial transactions. It won’t prevent bank frauds either. Can only help in providing benefits under section 7 of Aadhaar Act, 2016 at most. Mere legitimate state interest does not ensure proportionality. Your submission lacks this nuance.
- AG: Aadhaar will help in income disparity and eliminating poverty.
- Sikri, J: The gap is widening. More than 70% wealth is in the hands of 1%.
- Chandrachud, J: Proportionality is key. How far can the state cast the net of Aadhaar. Only section 7 seems to be understandable.
- Sikri, J: You cannot assume that the entire population consists of defaulters and violaters. What is the logic in linking all sim cards to aadhaar.
- AG: Terrorism will be curbed by doing this.
- Chandrachud, J: Do terrorists apply for sim cards? It’s a problem that you’re asking the entire population to link their mobile phones with Aadhaar.
- We are asking for minimal information via Aadhaar. Most information is already available in public domain. The question is to what extent has Aadhaar invaded privacy? It’s as minimum as possible.
- Aadhaar is required only for section 7 benefits, banks, income tax and mobile nos. Apart from that it’s purely voluntary.
- Court needs to balance two competing rights. Maintains that right to food, right to employment, right to medical care, etc trump right to privacy. Can right to privacy be invoked to deprive other sections of the society?
- The invasion to privacy is so minimal that it can’t even be considered an invasion. In X v. Hospital Z right to privacy was balanced against right to information. The appellant ( a man) had HIV and had the right to non disclosure. However, the court had held that his fiance had the right to know of his disease.
- Sikri, J: This is the case of balancing the rights of two person. In the case of Aadhaar, you’re giving a person food in exchange of their privacy.
- AG: The bare minimal requirements for identification for an individual is alone taken and to the extent that the technology permitted. Should people have basic right to life under article 21? Can it ever be challenged on the ground that we have a right to privacy?
- Bhushan, J: Minimal invasion is subjective. What maybe minimal for one might not be minimal for you.
- AG: Please look at the information that is taken and look at it from objective standards. We have to look at the larger interest of the country.
- Chandrachud, J: We have to look at three things: informed consent, purpose limitation, and enough security.
- AG: The CIDR is completely safe.
- Chandrachud, J: We have to look at what proportionality means. Proportionality hasn’t been defined in the Privacy judgement.
- AG: Without the minimal information that is collected, the entire architecture of Aadhaar couldn’t have been framed. Sections 29 a and b contain purpose limitation. Aadhaar was voluntary when it was rolled out, therefore there’s no question of violation of any right.
- Sikri, J: Is it permissible to say that I’ll give you food, shelter, etc but you’ll be my slave?
- AG: Slavery is not permissible.
- Chandrachud, J: Your argument to save the validity of the act does not take into account what happened before the act was passed. There was no protection for the citizens that time. There’s no retrospective effect also. What about collection of data by state Governments?
- AG: State Governments act as the agent of the Central Government.
- Khanwilkar, J: Is biometrics locking option available for people who don’t want to use Aadhaar?
- Shyam Divan intervenes: There’s no way to opt out of the Aadhaar system.
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.