Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012

The Aadhar Act and the Right to Privacy

Case Description

This case will decide the constitutional validity of the Aadhar Act.

Background

In 2011, the Central Government initiated a new identity document known as the Aadhar Card which was to be issued by a new agency, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). This card would be the basic identity card in India and would be available to every resident of the country free of cost.

However, to get this unique identity number, every resident would submit their biometric data which includes a scan of their fingerprints and retinas. This information would then be housed in a governmental database.

The Government has also progressively made the Aadhar Card mandatory for numerous welfare schemes. These include subsidised food under the Public Distribution System, Labour for a wage under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and even the Mid-Day Meal Scheme providing free lunches to schoolchildren.

The Aadhar Scheme was challenged before the Supreme Court by Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court alleging several infringements of fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. These objections can broadly be divided under two heads,

  1. That there was no adequate safeguard for the privacy of an individual. This is because any private entity may request authentication by Aadhar for any reason subject to regulations by the UIDAI as also there are no checks on the power of the government to use the biometric data collected.
  2. That the entitlements given to the people by the governments are themselves a fundamental right and cannot be limited for any reason including non-production of an Aadhar Card.

In response, the government has argued that India has no right to privacy at all and that the Government is well within its powers to make the Aadhar card mandatory for any reason. It is further argued that such a measure is necessary to prevent corruption and leakages in welfare schemes across India and the absence of such a measure has cost the people an untold amount of money.


Issues

  1. Whether the citizens of India have a fundamental Right to Privacy.
  2. Whether the maintenance of a record of biometric data violates this Right to Privacy.
  3. Whether the Aadhar card can be made mandatory for all residents of India.

Resources

Writ petition filed by Mr Vickram Crishna and others

Counter-Affidavit filed by the Government

Please note that the personal details of the Petitioners have been redacted.

We would like to thank Mr Rahul Narayan, Advocate-on-Record for providing us with these documents.

 

Writ Petition by Mr Raghav Tankha (Challenging the mandatory linking of mobile numbers with Aadhar and re-verification of mobile users)

Writ Petition filed by Dr. Kalyani Menon Sen (Challenging linkage of mobile numbers and bank accounts with Aadhaar)

Writ Petition filed by Mr Ram Pratap Misal (Challenging the requirement of Aadhaar for the post of APP)

Writ Petition filed by Ms Shantha Sinha (Challenging the mandatory use of Aadhaar for the government’s social welfare schemes)

Application by Ms Shantha Sinha to submit further documents

Latest Hearing


Judgment Pending

The Right To Privacy Verdict : What the 9 Judge Bench Held



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