Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: J.R. Midha, J., in a very significant ruling issued guidelines with regard to the feeding of stray dogs and directions for their welfare.

In the present matter, plaintiff approached the Court to restrain defendant 1 from feeding the stray dogs near the entrance/exit of the suit property.

The above dispute was amicably settled between the parties.

Pragyan Sharma, Amicus Curiae, Manisha T. Karia, Counsel for Animal Welfare Board of India, Nandita Rao, Additional Standing Counsel for GNCTD and Counsels for both the parties urged before this Court to lay down the guidelines with respect to feeding of stray dogs.

Guidelines with respect to feeding of stray dogs

  • Animals have a right under law to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity. Animals are sentient creatures with an intrinsic value. Therefore, protection of such beings is the moral responsibility of each and every citizen including the governmental and non-governmental organisations.
  • Animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf. No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals causes psychological pain to them. Animals breathe like us and have emotions. The animals require food, water, shelter, normal behaviour, medical care, self-determination.
  • Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hinderance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society.
  • Feeding of the community dogs have to be done at areas designated by the AWBI in consultation with Resident Welfare Associations or Municipal Corporation. It is the duty of the AWBI and the RWAs to ensure and keep in mind the fact that community dogs live in „packs‘ and care should be taken by the AWBI and RWAs to see that each „pack‟ ideally has different designated areas for feeding even if that means designating multiple areas in a locality.
  • All Law enforcement authorities shall ensure that no harassment or hindrance is caused to the person feeding street dog at the designated feeding spot and to properly implement the AWBI Revised Guidelines on Pet dogs and street dogs dated 26th February, 2015.
  • It shall be the duty and obligation of every Resident Welfare Associations or Municipal Corporation (in case RWA is not available) to ensure that every community dog in every area has access to food and water in the absence of caregivers or community dog feeders in the said area.
  • Street dogs have to be fed and tended to at places within their territory which are not frequented, or less frequented, and sparingly used by the general public and residents.
  • Any person having compassion for stray dogs can feed the dogs at their private entrance/porch/driveway of their house or any other place not shared with other residents.
  • No person can restrict the other from feeding of dogs, until and unless it is causing harm or harassment to that other person.
  • Residents and the members of the RWA as well as the dog feeders have to act in harmony with each other and not in a manner which shall lead to unpleasant circumstances in the colony.
  • AWBI shall ensure that every Resident Welfare Association or Municipal Corporation (in case RWA is not available), shall have an Animal Welfare Committee, which shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of the provisions of the PCA Act and ensure harmony and ease of communication between caregivers, feeders or animal lovers and other residents.
  • Municipal Corporations at the request of the RWA and/or local authority or persons volunteering to take such responsibility shall be responsible for having the stray dogs registered/vaccinated/sterilised.
  • Vaccinated and sterilized dogs cannot be removed by the Municipality.
  • It shall be the duty of the SHO concerned to ensure peace and harmony is maintained amongst the residents of the area.
  • If any of the street/community dogs is injured or unwell, it shall be the duty of the RWA to secure treatment for such dog by the vets made available by the Municipal Corporation and / or privately from the funds of the RWA.
  • Street dogs perform the role of community scavengers and also control rodent population in the area thus preventing spread of diseases like Leptospirosis.
  • Street dogs provide companionship to those residents who feed them an act as their stress relievers
  • It is the responsibility of the community residents to get their dogs vaccinated against rabies every year to prevent the spread of rabies.
  • Every RWA should form Guard and Dog partnerships and in consultation with the Delhi Police Dog Squad, the dogs can be trained to make them effective as guard dogs and yet friendly to those who live in the colony.
  • The importance of street dogs‟ in our community is of great significance. Being territorial animals, they live in certain areas and play the role of guards by protecting the community from the entry of outsiders or unknown people. If these are removed from a certain area, the new stray dogs will take their place
  • If any of the street/community dog is injured or unwell, it shall be the duty of the RWA to secure treatment for such dog by the vets made available by the Municipal Corporation and/or privately from the funds of the RWA.
  • In order to check the overpopulation of street dogs in the community, it is also the responsibility of community to get their street dog population sterilized through an NGO engaged in Dog sterilization programme.

Succinct Conclusion

Duty and Responsibility 

  • RWA or Municipal Corporation and all Government authorities including enforcement authorities to provide all assistance and ensure that no hindrance is caused to the caregivers or feeders of community dogs. Jurisdictional SHO to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained amongst the residents, care-givers and community dog feeders and there is no harassment to any care-giver or community dog feeder from feeding community dogs in the manner specified.
  • RWA to ensure that every community dog in every area has access to food and water in the absence of caregivers or community dog feeders.
  • AWBI shall ensure that every RWA or Municipal Corporation, shall have an Animal Welfare Committee, which shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of the provisions of the PCA Act and ensure harmony and ease of communication between caregivers, feeders or animal lovers and other residents.
  • In case, any resident(s) or the RWA has any grievance with regard to any act of caregivers and feeders, in relation to feeding of community dogs, the said resident(s), shall, at the first instance seek redressal of their grievance through a process of dialogue and discussion through the Animal Welfare Committee failing which the said issue may be brought to the notice of the AWBI through the RWA.
  • Government of India (Ministry of Personal, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Personal and Training) by Office Memorandum dated 26th May, 2006 had notified that the Government servant who indulges in act of cruelty to animals will be making himself liable for action under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Besides, punishment under the Act, he would also make himself liable for action under CCS(Conduct) Rules for conduct unbecoming of a Government servant. The said Office Memorandum also added that while residents and Associations are free to address institutional agencies for redressal of their grievances, no resident/association will interfere with the freedom of other residents in tending animals etc.
  • Despite the clear position of law prohibiting cruelty to the animal including stray dogs, there is increasing tendency of the citizens to defy the same. Many times, the Government employees take up a position in complete violation of well settled law which has been dealt with in the Office Memorandum dated 26th May, 2006. Such act of defiance be noted down in the ACR file of Government employee. If any such complaint is received by AWBI, the same be sent to the concerned office for being placed in the ACR file of the Government employee for necessary action as per CCS Rules.
  • Need to spread awareness that even animals have a right to live with respect and dignity.
  • It would be appropriate to constitute a Committee to implement these Guidelines. Committee shall comprise of the following:

(i)  The Director, Animal Husbandry Department or his nominee.

(ii)  One Senior Officer to be nominated by all the Municipal Corporations.

(iii)  One Senior Officer to be nominated by Delhi Cantonment Board.

(iv)  One Senior Officer to be nominated by Animal Welfare Board of India.

(v)  Ms. Nandita Rao, Additional Standing Counsel, Govt. of NCT of Delhi as Convenor.

(vi)  Ms. Manisha T. Karia, Advocate for Animal Welfare Board of India.

(vii)  Mr. Pragyan Sharma, Advocate

The committee shall hold its first meeting within 4 weeks.

High Court directed that the above decision be sent to Delhi Judicial Academy to sensitize the judges about the directions laid down by this Court.[Dr Maya D. Chablani v. Radha Mittal, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 3599, decided on 24-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Plaintiff: Abhishek Gusain and Sam C. Mathew, Advocates

For the Defendants: D.K. Pandey and Deepak Kumar, Advocates for defendants 1 and 3

Pragyan Sharma, Advocate as Amicus Curiae

Nandita Rao, ASC for GNCTD

Manisha T. Karia, Sukhda Kalra, Adarsh Kumar and Nidhi Nagpal, Advocates for Animal Welfare Board of India

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“To provide food security to impoverished persons is the bounden duty of all States and Governments.”

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan* and MR Shah, JJ has issued extensive directions to ensure the welfare of the migrant labourers who have been severely affected due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both, in the first and the second wave of the pandemic, migrant workers had been exposed to financial and other forms of hardships due to their limited access and claim to the welfare resources offered by the States/Union Territories. The migrant labourers are particularly vulnerable to the economic regression.

The Court, hence, noticed that,

“Our Constitution enjoins that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are for promoting welfare of the people by securing social and economic justice to the weaker section so as to sub-serve the common good to minimize inequalities in income and endeavour to eliminate inequality in status.”

Hence, in order to ensure the unorganised/migrant labourers have access to at-least bare necessities of life, the Court issued the following directions:

(i) Portal for for registration of the unorganized labourers/migrant workers

    • The Central Government to develop the Portal in consultation with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for registration of the unorganized labourers/migrant workers.
    • The Central Government as well as the respective States and the Union Territories to complete the process of Portal for registration under National Data Base for Unorganised Workers (NDUW Project) as well as implement the same, which by all means may commence not later than 31.07.2021.
    • The process of registration of the unorganized labourers/migrant workers is completed at the earliest, but not later than 31.12.2021.
    • All the concerned States/Union Territories and the Licence Holders/Contractors and others to cooperate with the Central Government to complete the process of registration of migrant workers and unorganized labourers so that the benefits of the welfare schemes declared by the Central Government/State Governments/ Union Territories be available to migrant workers and unorganized labourers for whose benefits the welfare schemes are declared.

(ii) The Central Government having undertaken to distribute additional quantity of foodgrains as demanded by the States/Union Territories for distribution to migrant labourers under some Scheme framed by the States, we direct the Central Government, Department of Food and Public Distribution (Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) to allocate and distribute foodgrains as per demand of additional food-grains from the States for disbursement of dry foodgrains to migran labourers.

(iii) States to bring in place an appropriate scheme for distribution of dry ration to migrant labourers for which it shall be open for States to ask for allocation of additional foodgrains from the Central Government, which, as directed above, shall provide the additional foodgrains to the State. The State shall consider and bring an appropriate Scheme, which may be implemented on or before 31.07.2021. Such scheme may be continued and operated till the current pandemic (Covid-19) continues.

(iv) The States, who have not yet implemented “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme are directed to implement the same by not later than 31.07.2021.

(v) The Central Government may undertake exercise under Section 9 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 to re-determine the total number of persons to be covered under the Rural and Urban areas of the State.

(vi) All the States/Union Territories to register all establishments and license all contractors under the Act, 1979 and ensure that statutory duty imposed on the contractors to give particulars of migrant workers is fully complied with.

(vii) The State/Union Territories are directed to run community kitchens at prominent places where large number of migrant labourers are found for feeding those migrant labourers who does not have sufficient means to procure two meals a day. The running of the community kitchen should be continued at-least till pandemic (Covid-19) continues.

[IN RE: PROBLEMS AND MISERIES OF MIGRANT LABOURERS, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 441, decided on 29.06.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Ashok Bhushan

Appearances before the Court:

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General for India, Dushyant Dave and Colin Gonsalves, senior counsel

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Chief Justice and Aravind Kumar J. gave a slew of directions regarding vaccine allocation, oxygen supply, food security and dignified burial of COVID dead bodies.

Issue 1: Delay in test result reporting

The Court taking stock of the situation in light of a recent incident where a staff of High Court died due to covid as the test result was not communicated to the deceased on time and hence he could not take treatment for COVID-19.

Directions:

  • State Government must initiate appropriate action in accordance with law against all concerned who are responsible for this lapse and place on record a report on the action taken on the next date.
  • State Government shall issue a direction to all the Laboratories to ensure that such incidents are not repeated and test reports are made available within 24 hours.

Issue 2: Vaccine Allocation

About 26, 00,000 beneficiaries in the State who have taken the first dose of COVISHIELD or COVAXIN have not received the second dose though it is overdue as per the prevailing norms of the Central Government. The total stock of vaccines available in the State is only 9, 37,780 of doses. Hence, there is no possibility of majority of 26, 00,000 beneficiaries getting the second dose which is already overdue. The situation which prevails today clearly shows that if all the available 9, 37,780 doses are to be used for administering the second dose, a substantial number of beneficiaries who have taken the first dose will not get the second dose.

The Court observed that there cannot be any distinction between the words ‘due’ and ‘overdue’ when it comes to administration of the second dose. Once as per the existing timelines, the second dose is due, it is an obligation of the Governments to ensure that the second dose is provided. If the second dose is not provided, it will be a violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Court further observed that If those who have taken the first dose are not administered the second dose on the respective due dates, apart from violation of the fundamental rights of the said citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, if they are required to take the first dose again, it will be a huge national waste of the first dose already administered to them.

A mandatory direction to both the Governments regarding ensuring sufficient procurement of quantity of vaccine doses however was not issued in light of submission made by the Additional Solicitor General. It was stated that a decision on allocation of vaccine is likely to be taken and it was assured that the Central Government will make every endeavour to bridge the gap to ensure that no one is denied the second dose which has become due.

The sum and substance of the guidelines by the Central Government appears to be that the first priority of the State Government should be to provide vaccine to those who have taken the first dose.

“By way of an illustration, we may record here that if a person has taken the first dose of COVISHIELD more than eight weeks back, he must get priority over the person who has completed seven weeks from the date of taking the first dose of COVISHIELD. Thus, it is mandatory for the State Government to ensure that a rational and fair formula is adopted for giving second dose of vaccination.”

Directions:

  • State Government must abide by the said guidelines considering the desperate and critical situation created due to failure to administer second dose to about 20,00,000 citizens.
  • State Government shall place on record all the facts and figures (district-wise) regarding the second dose administered throughout the State

Issue 3: Food Security

The Government of India decided to allocate free of cost food grains at 5 Kgs, per person, per month to nearly 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) over and above NFSA Food grains for next two months i.e. May and June 2021 on the same pattern as the earlier “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY)”. Under this Special scheme (PM-GKAY) around 80 crore NFSA beneficiaries covered under both the categories of NFSA, namely Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Householders (PHH) will be provided with an additional quota of free of cost food grains (Rice/wheat) at a scale of 5 Kgs per person, per month, over and above their regular  monthly entitlements under NFSA.

There is an issue regarding implementation of the instant scheme which is being implemented through Indira Canteens throughout the State.

 Directions:

  • It is directed to both the Governments to take a call on the issue whether the benefits of Atma Nirbhara Scheme as applicable last year can be extended to those who are not holding a ration card of any State.
  • State Government shall also identify the vulnerable sections of the society who have been affected by the partial lockdown.
  • State Government shall take a decision immediately on the issue of restoring Dasoha helpline to know who are the persons who are deprived of the benefits of the scheme of the State Government of supplying cooked food as well as well as the scheme of the Central Government.

Highlights of the Report of the Monitoring Committee of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority

There are two main issues which arise on the basis of the said report. These are as follows:

  • Compensation in Chamarajanagar District Hospital Tragedy

The Court relied on judgments Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar 1983 (4) SCC 141 and Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, AIR 1993 SC 1960 and observed “that in a public law remedy in the form of a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, Writ Court can grant compensation for violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

  • Responsibility for lapses

The Court observed that the Committee has found instances of tampering with the relevant record. The Court directed that “the record shall be retained in the custody of the Chief Secretary will continue to operate. Needless to add that either the Commissioner appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 or any Investigating Agency needs to look into the record, the Chief Secretary will make available the said record.”

Observations regarding Oxygen

“….it is for the State Government to immediately communicate the requirements of the State to the concerned Authority of the Central Government in view of the assurance recorded therein.”

Observations regarding Dignified Burial or Cremation

The Court observed

“….State Government permit burial of the body of a person who has died due to COVID-19 without obtaining a death certificate.””

The Court finally directed “the learned Advocate General or the learned Additional Advocate General convenes a meeting of the learned counsel appearing for the parties so that the issues regarding compliances can be discussed and a proper response is given on the next date”

[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12301, decided on 13-05-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah, JJ has directed that a Common National Database for all organised workers situate in different States in the entire country, which may serve registration for extending different schemes by the States and Centre, be created at the earliest so as to ensure that the organised workers are able to reap the benefits of the Government Schemes.

“…for accessing of any benefit percolating from any scheme framed by the Centre or the States for the benefit of unorganized workers or migrant workers, registration of workers is essential, which registration shall facilitate the unorganized workers to assess the scheme and reap the benefit.”

Currently there is no uniform process of registration. There are separate registration of workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers’(Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. Under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008, all States have framed the Rules and some States have also undertaken registration under the aforesaid Acts but no State has given any details as to whether registration under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 is complete.

The Court, however, noticed that the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 now stand repealed by the Code of Social Security Act, 2020 (Act No.36 of 2020 published in the Gazette of India on 29.09.2020). By Section 164 of the Code, several enactments have been repealed including the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 and the Building and other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. In Section 112 of the Code of Social Security, 2020, registration of unorganized workers, gig workers and platform workers is contemplated. The Court, hence, asked the Union of India to apprise it on steps which are proposed to be taken n this regard.

The Court also asked the Central Government and the State Government to complete the process of registration of organized workers at an early date so that unorganized workers are able to reap the benefit of different schemes of the Centre and the States, which without proper registration and identity card seems to be difficult to implement on the ground. A detailed affidavit is to be filed within 2 weeks.

Further, there shall be suitable mechanism to monitor and supervise whether the benefits of the welfare schemes reach the beneficiaries which may be from grassroot levels to higher authorities with names & places of beneficiaries so that the purposes for such schemes are floated is achieved.

The Court also asked all the States to file affidavits indicating the mechanism by which the dry ration should be distributed to those migrant workers, who does not possess a ration card.

“Whether the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme of the Union of India, which was implemented for giving dry rations to migrant workers in May and June, 2020 is to be utilized or some other scheme has to be utilized is a matter for States to take a decision but the dry ration has to be distributed to the migrant workers throughout the country by the States.”

The Court, however, directed that migrant workers wherever stranded throughout the country should be provided the dry ration under the Atma Nirbhar Scheme or any other scheme is found suitable by the States/Centre.

Regarding Community Kitchen, the Court noticed that it is the responsibility of the States/Union Territories to provide Community Kitchen to the stranded migrant workers, who have lost their employment and are in need of two meals a day and hence, they should make operational the community kitchen to the stranded migrant workers wherever they may situate in the country.

“There shall be wide publicity with respect to the various schemes including the places of community kitchens so that such needy persons may in fact take benefits.”

Regarding direct cash transfer to unorganised workers, the Court said that

“… cash transfer is a matter of policy and scheme framed by each State/Union Territory and no direction for cash transfer can be issued by this Court to any category of person unless they are covered by any scheme formulated by the State/Union Territory.”

[IN RE : PROBLEMS AND MISERIES OF MIGRANT LABOURERS, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 398, order dated 24.05.2021]

For petitioner: Advocate Prashant Bhushan,

For Union of India: SG Tushar Mehta and ASG Aishwarya Bhati

For States: Maninder Singh for the State of Gujarat, Garima Prashad for the State of U.P., Ranjit Kumar for the State of Bihar, Rahul Chitnis for the State of Maharashtra and Sanjay Kumar Visen for the State of Haryana.

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai, JJ has refused to pass order directing Centre to provide ration to those people who do not have any ration card and also for universilization of the Public Distribution System.

Saying that the prayer made by the petitioner is a ‘policy issue’ and that only Government can take a call on that, it said,

“This being a policy issue, it is left open to the Government of India and also the concerned States/Union Territories to consider such relief.”

[Aayom Welfare Society v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 428 , decided on 30.04.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Irked over repeated failures of the Centre and States to file their replies, the bench of N V Ramana, Ajay Rastogi and V Ramasubramanian, JJ came down heavily and imposed cost of Rs. 5 lakh on them for not complying with its directions to file their affidavits on a PIL seeking setting up of community kitchens across the country. During the hearing, the Court said if the Union of India and the States file their affidavit in the next 24 hours then they will have to pay only Rs. 1 lakh fine, whereas those who still fail to submit it by then will have to pay Rs 5 lakh fine.

The Court said that five states, Punjab, Nagaland, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar, who have filed their responses on the PIL filed by Anun Dhawan, will not pay any fine.

The Court said that,

“It is unfortunate to note that even after lapse of considerable period of time, there is no proper response from the State Governments.”

Advocate Ashima Mandla, appearing for the petitioner said that five months have passed since the Court had issued notice and except for five states and one union territory, no other states and UTs have filed their response. She said that 69% of children under the age of five who have lost their lives are due to malnutrition and it is high time that States take steps to set up community kitchens.

Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the Centre sought some more time to file response to the PIL. The bench, however, posted the matter for further hearing on February 17 and asked the Centre and state to file their responses at the earliest with the cost.

The Court had on October 18 favoured setting up of community kitchens, saying the country needs this kind of system to tackle the problem of hunger. It had issued notices to the Centre and all states seeking their responses on a PIL seeking directions to all the states and union territories (UTs) to formulate a scheme for community kitchens to combat hunger and malnutrition.

The plea had claimed that many children, under the age of five, die every day due to hunger and malnutrition and this condition was violative of various fundamental rights, including the right to food and life of citizens. The PIL, filed by social activists Anun Dhawan, Ishann Dhawan and Kunjana Singh, had also sought a direction to the Centre for creating a national food grid for people falling outside the purview of the public distribution scheme.

It had also sought issuance of an order to the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) for formulating a scheme to mitigate hunger-related deaths.

The plea referred to the state-funded community kitchens being run in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi that serve meals at subsidised rates in hygienic conditions.

The plea also referred to the concepts of soup kitchen, meal centre, food kitchen or community kitchen, in other countries, where food is offered to the hungry usually for free or sometimes at below-market price.

The petition, filed through advocates Ashima Mandla and Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, had said that the Centre and its various ministries have initiated and implemented various schemes to combat hunger, malnutrition and the resulting starvation, although in reality, effective implementation of the schemes was “unclear and fairly limited”.

The statistics on starvation deaths in the country are unavailable and starvation as the cause of death can only be ascertained upon autopsy after death, the plea said, adding that global agencies report that more than three lakh children die every year in India because of hunger, whereas 38 per cent below the age of five are stunted.

“Implementation of community kitchens funded by state or in association with corporate social responsibility by a public-private partnership (PPP) may be implemented to complement the existing schemes,”

The petition also said that a 2010 report by the World Food Programme on the state of food insecurity in India indicates that increasing urban inequality, significant under-investment in urban health and nutrition infrastructure, workforce in casual or contract employment or even less remunerative self-employment, growth of slums and slum population lacking in most basic health and hygiene infrastructure has resulted in a permanent food and nutrition emergency.

[Anun Dhawan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 165, order dated 10.02.2020]

(With inputs from PTI)

Hot Off The PressNews

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.
  • AG:
    • 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 other submissions by the Attorney General, click here, here and 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.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here, here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source:  twitter.com/SFLCin