Apex court says hard to junk Aadhaar act on fears of misuse

Aadhaar data breach brought up in SC hearing

Hearing the arguments presented by Sr. advocate Kapil Sibal on behalf of West Bengal state government and two other petitioners, the Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court of India (SC) commented that mere apprehension of misuse can not be a legal ground to strike Aadhaar down.

He referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech in Davos where he said the one who controlled the data would control the world, to point out "misuse" of the information collected through Aadhaar.

Justice Chandrachud intervened and told Mr. Sibal "there are a long line of judgments of this court that mere possibility of misuse of a law will not lead to striking down a legislation, unless you are able to demonstrate that Aadhaar law is a colourable legislation". I am not talking about surveillance, but data power.

"Information is power and if the power is given to the state, it will use it as never before".

Kapil Sibal said, "This whole thing is being pushed by conglomerates beyond our borders to sell their products. More one knows about people, more the business grows", he said. He submitted he would give the name of the entity to the court and added "software is provided by the foreign entity".

"In the absence of technologically assured safe environment what level of risk is acceptable and what level of risk not acceptable".

The court pointed out that Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act listed the purposes it could be used for. "Aadhaar is the NDA's idea of government's right to information about citizens", he said. He said this is a matter of great moment in the history of the Supreme Court, which will decide a matter of far reaching consequences.

Justice A K Sikri pointed out that the government, if it wants, can find out details of individuals even without Aadhaar.

Justice Chandrachud countered this, saying that non-mandatory nature of services offered by private sector was only notional.

The five-judge constitution bench made the above statement in reference to senior advocate Kapil Sibal's argument that the 12-digit biometric-data based Unique Identification number can compromise with the privacy of the citizens.

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