A Petition has been filed in Supreme Court of India seeking a direction to the Department of Telecom and to various telecom operators to stop misleading the public as to the requirement of Aadhaar being the only means of authentication for proof of Identity and proof of Address by an erroneous and malafide interpretation of Supreme Court order in Loknithi Foundation Case.
The petition filed by Advocate Raghav Tankha also seeks a direction to the Telecom Service Providers’ to stop advertisements as well as SMS and misinforming the citizens of India about the actual import of the Supreme Court order.
On 06.02.2017 the Supreme Court in “Lokniti Foundation v Union of India”, in its final Order while addressing the issue of verification and re-verification of mobile subscribers expressed its hope that a process ensuring proper verification would be carried out as far as possible within a period of one year.
Onn 23.03.2017, the Department of Telecommunications came out a circular, which declared that the Supreme Court of India had essentially directed them to make Aadhaar based E-KYC mandatory for obtaining new connections and for re-verifying existing subscribers, and proceeded to make it mandatory for both Prepaid and Postpaid subscribers to connect their Aadhaar cards with their phone numbers.
“Since then, from the month of July and well into September, the petitioner’s Telecom Service Provider has been sending him advertisements, emails, and SMS telling him to link his Aadhaar with his mobile number. Persons known to the petitioner have also reportedly been regularly receiving the same”.
The Petitioner also contended that the Nine-Judge Bench in the privacy Judgment recognized the notion of informational privacy, which means the right to prevent disclosure of information about oneself, unless compelled by procedure established by law.
“That knowing full well, that this judgment could lead to this practice of linking Aadhaar with various facilities being set aside by this Hon’ble court which is looking into this issue, these private Telecom Service Providers’ have been continuing to feverishly advertise it being mandatory to link Aadhaar to subscribers mobile number. This amounts to willful disregard of this Hon’ble Courts judgment cited above, and amounts to contempt of this Hon’ble Court”
According to the petitioner the order in “Lokniti Foundation Vs Union of India”, when read in its entirety, makes it clear that firstly, Aadhaar is not mandatory for obtaining a new mobile connection, and secondly, with respect to existing subscribers, only re-verification of existing prepaid subscribers has been addressed in the said order.
“Further, this Hon’ble Court never directed the Union of India to make Aadhaar mandatory for all mobile subscribers, new and existing in India. The counter affidavit of the Union of India before this Hon’ble Court would itself reveal that Aadhaar was never mandatory for obtaining a new mobile connection, but that most subscribers who have an Aadhaar card normally use it for the said purpose, this is further supported by the DOT circular dated 16.08.2016. Therefore a subscriber is not bound in any way to submit Aadhaar as proof for verification of address and identity”.
(a) Issue a Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate Writ, order or direction under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, directing the Respondents to declare that Aadhaar is not mandatory for the purpose of authentication while obtaining a mobile connection, or the re-verification of Subscribers, being completely illegal, arbitrary and mala fide; and/or
(b) Issue a Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate Writ, order or direction under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, directing the Respondents Number 2 to 6,to take immediate steps in the present situation, for restraining and banning the transfer of data from UIDAI to Private Telecom Service Providers and Aadhaar being made the only option of authentication;