Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Shloka Suda

Right to Privacy Violated- Aadhaar Card (UID Card)

http://www.lawji.in/2017/07/right-to-privacy-violated-aadhaar-card.html

Aadhar cards are issued by the Indian Government as identification cards,in an attempt to put all Indian citizens on record by providing them with a 12-digit unique identification number. The aadhar project is an attempt to capture all details, including demographic and biometric information of every Indian citizen. The aadhar card does not attempt to replace previously existing identification documents but rather a pre requisite in applying for other things.

This initiative taken by the Indian government was not a walk in the park and has been met by a series of legal challenges.

In the present matter the court was examining whether Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act brought in by the Finance Act, 2017 is constitutionally valid. This provision makes it mandatory for all taxpayers to produce their 12-digit unique identification number while applying for a Permanent Account Number(PAN). Faliure to link the two would result in the former being deemed invalid.

In the case of Binoy Viswam v. Union of India (W.P.(C)247/2017), S.G. Vombatkere & Anr. v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 277/2017)
Stage by putting light on the fact that the insertion of Section 139AA was not part of original finance bill rather it was introduced on the last day after 30-40 statutes had already been amended.

In order to prove section following grounds were brought forward:
It was argued that the entire system of Aadhar is unreliable , quoting numerous leaks that have occurred as evidence. A letter written by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology confirms that the data, which the Government has been carefully guarding, has been leaked online

The preamble of the Constitution claims to guarantee dignity of the individual , compelling people to part with their biometric data can be said to be a violation to their fundamental right to life as was guaranteed by article 21 of the constitution. When there is a written Constitution that the citizens have given to themselves, the state, however powerful has limited power. This concept of limited government was recognised in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Thakur Bharat Singh.

Right to life under Article 21 encompasses the right to protect one’s body from harm, which in turn includes the right to not part with one’s fingerprints and iris scans.

Incase the object of the statute is discriminatory, then the statute can be said to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Before invoking the test of reasonable classification, it is essential to check the object of the Act itself is discriminatory or not. Aadhar discriminates between two classes of assesses – those who volunteer to part with their biometric data and those who do not.

A statutory provision that completely takes away the voluntary nature of Aadhar and compels expropriation of a person’s fingerprints and iris scans is per se violative of Article 21. It also brought light to the fact that “informational self determination” should be included as a feature of Articles 21, 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

Aadhaar is applicable to children as well, the point of question was question how can they be compelled to be yoked to a digital network system like Aadhaar before they even reach the age of free consent.

Conclusion
In the landmark case of Binoy Vishwam effectively held that policy goals override rights, furthermore the court decided not to examine questions related to human dignity and privacy, on the ground that issues affecting Article 21 will be examined by a larger bench to be set up by the court. However, it granted relief to people, who have not enrolled for Aadhaar, by stating that their PAN cards cannot be invalidated till the time when the matter is finally decided by such a bench.