Misuse Of Aadhaar Verification, Linkage Process: HC Worried About Disastrous Consequences, Registers Suo Motu PIL [Read Order]
Concerned over a “major loophole” in the process of Aadhaar verification and linkage it came across during the hearing of a bail plea and its disastrous consequences for individuals as well as the national security, the Delhi High Court has registered a suo motu PIL and has sought response of the Centre, UIDAI, the Delhi Police.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameshwar Rao directed the Registry to register a PIL on an issue placed before the Chief Justice by single judge Sanjeev Sachdeva.
The court has appointed senior advocate Dayan Krishnan assisted by Advocate Rushab Aggarwal as amicus curiae to assist the court.
On September 5, Justice Sachdeva took up for hearing a bail application by one Manish Bansal, a mobile shop owner in north Delhi’s Shastri Nagar who had been booked by the Delhi Police in August for using Aadhaar details of his customers to issue SIM cards which were further used for making phone calls to people and dupe them into fraudulent insurance schemes.
The FIR said the petitioner was the owner of a mobile shop which issues SIM cards for new mobile connections and also undertakes verification and linkage of Aadhaar for the existing connections. The new connections were obtained in the name of individuals who had come to the shop for Aadhaar verification and linkage of Aadhaar to their mobile numbers. SIM cards of these new connections were used by the co-accused for the purpose of committing fraud on individuals with regard to their LIC policies.
The prosecution explained to the court that those coming to the shop for Aadhaar verification and linkage with SIM card had to submit documents and place thumb in the biometric machine. The person at the counter would ask customers to place the thumb on the machine again on the pretext that the thumb impression was not captured properly in first attempt.
When the customer placed the thumb a second time, the person at the counter would take an authorisation for a fresh connection and use the copy of the documents to issue a new SIM card but keep the same with himself. This new SIM would then be used for defrauding people.
The court was further informed that a separate but similar case has been registered in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj and highlights the misuse of Aadhaar verification process.
After hearing the prosecution, Justice Sachdeva had observed, “The modus operandi that has surfaced during preliminary investigation, in this case, highlights a major loophole in the system, whereby fresh mobile connections can be issued in the name of an unwary customer, without his knowledge and consent by using his documents and biometrics.
“This loophole can not only have disastrous consequences for the said individual but also raises serious law and order issues and could have serious repercussions on the safety and security of the nation. This issue needs to be examined by the agencies involved, inter alia, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Unique Identification Authority of India, Cyber Cell of Delhi Police under the supervision of the Special Commissioner of Police and the Telecom companies”.
With a view that the issue required intervention of the court and should be taken up as a public interest issue, Justice Sachdeva had then directed the Registry to place a copy of his order before the Chief Justice, on the administrative side, for consideration as to whether this issue needs to be taken up as a public interest litigation on the judicial side.
When the bench headed by the Chief Justice took up the matter, the bench ordered that the issue of public interest should be dealt with separately.
“We are of the view that the issue of public interest should be dealt with separately and the bail application be listed before the roster bench,” it ordered.
The division bench also directed the Registrar to register a separate writ petition classified as Courts of its Own Motion by arraying the State of NCT of Delhi through Commissioner of Police, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology and UIDIA as respondents.
It also asked the respondents as to why rule nisi be not issued.
Read the Order Here