Calcutta HC Questions Non Verification Of Declarations Made During Aadhaar Enrollment [Read Judgment]
“There is definitely something amiss with the Aadhaar enrollment process if important demographic information such as the name of an applicant’s father, as is the case in hand, can be falsified and even go undetected.”
The Calcutta High Court has observed that is arbitrary to allow one sort of information establishing the identity of an individual to pass without verification during the Aadhaar enrollment process.
A landlord had approached the high court alleging that an employee of his deceased tenant took advantage of the death of the tenant and alleged falsely that he was the son of the deceased tenant and on the basis of an Aadhaar card where the demographic information which he relied upon for such false allegation, was furnished by him and accepted without verification by the UIDAI, he filed a civil suit for declaration of his tenancy.
The petitioner contended that the said employee in Aadhaar application has provided false demographic information with certain oblique and ulterior motive to wrongfully acquire the tenancy of the deceased tenant (Dr. Keshab Bhusan Roy) by projecting himself to be his son with the help of his Aadhaar credentials and criminal proceedings are not being started against him.
Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee heard the UIDAI in the matter, which told the court that no authentication is made of any material which is declared by an applicant for Aadhaar card in his application and it is done merely on the details provided by the applicant in his application.
The court also observed that the demographic information under the head "parent/guardian" and the fields "father's/mother's/husband's/wife's name" are shown to be in Schedule III of the Regulations, but optional in case of regulations and there is no verification required to be done in case of adults for father, husband or guardian.
"Whatever an applicant says his father's name is, the UIDAI shall gullibly accept it as gospel truth," remarked the judge adding that there is definitely something amiss with the Aadhaar enrollment process if important demographic information, such as the name of an applicant's father, can be falsified and even go undetected.
The court further observed: "Information collected from an individual during the Aadhaar application process could not be treated with such disparity which would allow even false demographic information to pass under the scanner of the Aadhaar authorities without even being sufficiently verified. In other words, I think it is arbitrary to allow one sort of information establishing the identity of an individual to pass without verification while subjecting another sort of information stringent scrutiny though both are voluntarily submitted by the applicant and are for the same purpose. Such a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the UIDAI towards important identity information of an individual is sure to frustrate, if not the whole at least a substantial objective of the Aadhaar scheme. If such practices are allowed to pass unremarked under the judicial scanner, it would be diluting the credibility of an Aadhaar Card as far as the demographic information printed upon it is concerned thereby cheating millions in the country who hold their Aadhaar as a concomitant to their identity."
The court also said that though the entire system of Aadhaar has been structured in a way to ensure that there is no leakage of information resulting in the violation of the constitutional right to privacy of the citizens from whom such information is collected, there has not been enough deliberation upon the other aspect of the system concerning demographic information, namely, as to what happens when such information taken turns out to be false.
However, the judge refused to go into the question whether the procedure of recording the demographic information is itself arbitrary and thus struck by Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The bench directed the petition to file a complaint before the statutory authorities in this regard.