On the penultimate day of the Aadhaar hearing, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan continued with his rejoinder before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ.
Below are the highlights from the arguments advanced on Day 37 of the Aadhaar Hearing:
- Shyam Divan:
- We’re linking Individuals Aadhaar with their bank accounts and mobile numbers without their permission. It’s called inorganic seeding. Without statutory backing UIDAI collected biometrics of hundred crore people which is the entire population of Europe and North America.
- From the citizens perspective, there’s authentication tower and enrollment tower. IP address, ID, date, time and purpose of authentication can be known because of the architecture of Aadhaar. Source code of the Aadhaar software belongs to foreign companies. It is impossible to live in contemporary India without Aadhaar.
- Aadhaar linking is not a one time thing. It’s a continuous process.
- ID4D 2015 report was relied on by the Attorney General KK Venugopal. World bank had partnered with Accenture to write this report. Therefore the report is not impartial.
- Collecting biometrics was ultra vires the 2009 notification. Assuming the notification was an act of parliament, even then it would’ve been ultra vires for collecting something as intrusive as biometrics. Also there was no informed consent and penalties that time.
- UIDAI has been flouting the interim orders of the SC. Aadhaar schemes under section 7 should not involve children, merit education. Exclude schemes for rehabilitation and involve stigma like bonded labourers, exclude food and nutrition, matters related to health.
- There cannot be retrogression of human rights.
- Sarva shiksha Abhiyan and mid day meal schemes requires children to furnish Aadhaar to avail benefits of these schemes. This should be completely excluded from section 7. There should be no conditions placed on children to avail these benefits.
- Aadhaar was even required to participate in essay competition. This is way beyond any reasonable limit of proportionality.
- Highly vulnerable groups should not be mandated to provide Aadhaar. Even Ujjwala scheme for women rescued from trafficking requires Aadhaar.
- Sikri, J: The problem is that wrong beneficiaries receive such benefits.
- Shyam Divan:
- Even tuberculosis patients were mandated to disclose Aadhaar numbers.
- Please don’t consider Section 7 by itself but the overall impact of the Act. This is an over extension of the coercive powers of the State. Section 7 beneficiaries are demoted to the status of second class citizens. Aadhaar authentication is a violation of personal autonomy.
- Also, Aadhaar is probabilistic. Non retrogression of rights is an important principle of human rights law.
- This act has a huge impact on human rights. Constitution has an intricate scheme to defend part III with the final defence lying with the SC. Cannot bypass wisdom of Rajya Sabha and Article 111 to pass Aadhaar as a money bill.
- Demographic information in many situations is also important and should not be trivialised. People must have the choice to preserve and protect it.
- The architecture of Aadhaar with full traceability enables mass surveillance, and profiling. There are a lot of lawyers who are doing this pro Bono because they believe this is a huge constitutional matter. There’s no commercial interest.
- The Aadhaar Act will not survive the first five words of the preamble, “We the people of India”.
- Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium:
- State functionaries have a continuing constitutional obligation. If the obligation is not met, it cannot be reversed and the burden of proof cannot be on Individuals to establish their identity.
- Do children want fake mid day meals? Do poor disabled people want to fake their identity?
- Section 33 will allow sharing of authentication records. Footprints of ones activities are known by the State. Is there any nexus between such knowledge of the State and delivery of services?
- You need all the other identity documents like ration cards, along with Aadhaar number. A person can ping the authentication machine three times and get rejected and then get accepted on the fourth ping. How can we subject citizens to this?
- Is Aadhaar really for the oppressed? Because everyone is now supposed to link it with banks, telecom etc. What exactly is the compelling state interest that has been demonstrated?
- Admissions to schools is denied for lack of Aadhaar. The legislation is not an enabler, and not used for empowerment. Therefore, it falls on all grounds that is Articles 14, 19 and 21.
- Data of citizens can be used for political exercise. Aadhaar’s preponderant nature is likely to invade. Aadhaar alters the symbiotic nature between state and citizen.
- This law is a fetter on self actualization. However noble your intentions maybe, if you step out of the boundaries of the Constitution, then there’s no saving such legislation.
To read the highlights from the submissions of AG KK Venugopal on the issue of money bill, click here.
To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Zoheb Hossain, click here.
To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, click here.
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.