Aadhaar; Data Collection By Private Agencies Not A Good Idea: SC

Aadhaar; Data Collection By Private Agencies Not A Good Idea: SC


“We are not inclined to give immediate hearing as there are limited resources but biometric data collection by private agencies is not a great idea” : SC bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar.


Data collection by private agencies is not a good idea, the Supreme Court today observed while refusing to expedite the hearing of  Aadhaar cases challenging the constitutional validity of the scheme.

The observation was made by Chief Justice J S Khehar after senior advocate Shyam Divan sought urgent hearing of the plea citing privacy concern.

“We are not inclined to give immediate hearing as there are limited resources but biometric data collection by private agencies is not a great idea”, the bench said.

Divan, who represented one of the petitioners, said that these matters needs urgent hearing as there is individual's privacy concern as biometric datas are being collected by private agencies.

RIGHT TO PRIVACY

The petitioners including a former high court judge Justice Puttaswamy and NGO Society for Civil Rights have raised the issue of right to withhold personal information and intrusion into right to privacy by the state.

Two of the interveners in the case - Reetika Khera, an Economics Professor at IIT Delhi, and Sahana Manjesh, a lawyer-have contended that biometric identification denoted for UID, namely the iris scan, finger print identification, and the personal details collected, can easily be misused by a miscreant. They contend that the manner in which biometric details are collected - without any safeguard - by private contractors and NGOs hired by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) makes it prone to misuse.

THE LAST ORDER

The apex court had on October 15, 2015 lifted its earlier restrictions and permitted voluntary use of  Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and provident fund, besides ambitious flagship programmes like 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna' of the NDA government. The social welfare schemes, aimed at reaching the door steps of the poorest of the poor, were in addition to LPG and PDS schemes in which the apex court had allowed the voluntary use of  Aadhaar cards. A five-judge constitution bench had put a caveat in its interim order for the Centre and said that  Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and not mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this court, this way or the other way. It had said that that a larger bench was required to be set up for final disposal of the petitions that also include the question as to whether the right to privacy is fundamental right.

SC had in October 2015 referred to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's ambitious scheme to provide  Aadhaar card to all citizens and decide whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Allowing the Centre's plea, a three-judge bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde and C Nagappan, framed various questions, including as to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right, to be decided by the larger Constitution Bench.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.