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Aadhaar case: State cannot sit in judgement on identity of citizens, SC told

The State cannot sit in judgement and rely only on biometric details to establish the identity of its citizens, a former High Court Judge who has challenged the Aadhaar scheme, told the Supreme Court today.

Reported by: PTI, New Delhi [ Updated: February 20, 2018 23:14 IST ]
Aadhaar case: State cannot sit in judgement on identity of
Image Source : PTI Aadhaar case: State cannot sit in judgement on identity of citizens, SC told

The State cannot sit in judgement and rely only on biometric details to establish the identity of its citizens, a former High Court Judge who has challenged the Aadhaar scheme, told the Supreme Court today.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is hearing a clutch of petitions including one filed by former High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 Act.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the former judge, said the State cannot sit in "judgement" and rely on some numbers and biometric details of a person to establish his or her constitutional identity.

"Virtual person cannot reduce the real personhood," the senior lawyer told the bench which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

Terming the Aadhaar Act as "unconstitutional", he said it has been held in several judgements that the individual's rights always gets primacy over the rights of the State and moreover, the action of the government is needed to be tested "for substantive and procedural due process".

The senior lawyer maintained that the government says that Aadhaar scheme was put in place for furthering "social good", but the "remedies are worse than the maladies".

The right to equality, right to personal liberty and freedom of speech and expression are being violated by the Aadhaar scheme, he said.

He also referred to the recent nine-judge bench judgement and said the right to privacy has been held to a be fundamental right to which dignity is "central and integral", he said, adding that the dignity of an individual is being infringed by the Aadhaar law.

The fact that there would be a centralised data base will lead to aggregation of details of the citizens and they can be misused, he said.

"Means employed in the statute is because biometrics itself is flawed. And algorithmic behaviour is itself rational and beyond the control of the UIDAI," he said, adding the people would be denied the access to justice by the Aadhaar Act, which is an "overarching theme".

The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would resume tomorrow.

Earlier, the court had posed whether the government was not entitled to seek proof of identity from citizens if their entitlement to certain benefits were dependent upon their identities.

"If your entitlement depends on who you are, then can the government not require proof on that count? Is it not a reasonable condition," the bench had asked.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the West Bengal government, had said the proof of identity has to be linked with the status of the person which entitles him or her for the benefit and moreover, the citizens must have the choice to prove their identity.

Prior to this, the court had said that issues like denial of benefits to citizens for either want of Aadhaar or due to its non-authentication may not be a ground for holding the law as "unconstitutional".

The apex court had on December 15 last year extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes of all ministries and departments of the Centre, states and Union territories.

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