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Right to Privacy: Govt aims to protect Aadhaar, reminds Congress of Emergency

While the ruling party members invoked Emergency to counter what they called “mischievous propaganda” by the Congress, they also sought to protect the Aadhaar legislation

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: August 25, 2017 10:41 am
right to privacy, aadhaar, ravi shankar prasad, government on privacy, privacy fundamental right, aadhaar card, indian express news Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press conference in New Delhi. (Source: PTI Photo)

IN FIRST remarks on the Supreme Court judgment that recognised privacy as a fundamental right, the government said on Thursday that the ruling has reaffirmed its stance on the issue. Both Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley welcomed the ruling as “a positive development”.

While the ruling party members invoked Emergency to counter what they called “mischievous propaganda” by the Congress, they also sought to protect the Aadhaar legislation, which has become the bedrock of many reform initiatives undertaken by the Narendra Modi government. “It is a positive development. As evolution of Constitutional law goes on, there is always an effort to strengthen fundamental rights,” said Jaitley.

“The government welcomes the Supreme Court judgment making privacy a fundamental right. We have been consistently of this view, particularly with regard to Aadhaar, that this right flows from Article 21 and is hence subject to reasonable restrictions. The case predates us… it is from the (previous) UPA regime when the question arose on how the government can collect data without any legislative backing. We have always looked at privacy as a fundamental right and that is what we argued in court, too,” said Prasad. Read | Opposition welcomes Right to Privacy verdict, Congress says blow to ‘unbridled encroachment by state’

Addressing a press conference after the verdict, the Law Minister quoted from Jaitley’s speech in the Rajya Sabha, when the Finance Minister had said that the Aadhaar Bill “presupposes” that “it is too late in date to contend that privacy is not a fundamental right”. BJP president Amit Shah, too, drew attention to Jaitley’s remarks on privacy being a fundamental right during discussion on Aadhaar. However, all the ruling party leaders skirted the position taken by the government’s top legal officers, objecting to inclusion of privacy as a fundamental right, during the hearing.

Responding to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s statement that the “SC decision marks a major blow to Fascist forces”, both Jaitley and Prasad highlighted the suspension of fundamental rights during the Emergency. “Congress’s record of crushing civil liberties is too well known. It was their Attorney General who had said that there was no recourse to fundamental right to any detainee during the Emergency,” Prasad told The Indian Express. Shah, too, referred to the Emergency as he criticised Congress’s “false show of jubilation and vindication”.

“Those waxing eloquent today on privacy architecture are the ones who have ensured India does not have a robust privacy law for decades. Those commenting on Aadhaar are the same people who did not provide it a legal backing for years,” he said in a blog adding, “Congress should remember their record of trampling on Right to Life & Liberty as well as Internet Censoring.”

The BJP leaders also defended the Aadhaar legislation. “The UPA brought Aadhaar without a law, without safeguards for data, therefore the challenge was there,” said Jaitley. “Aadhaar (as) conceived by the Congress government was flawed. They had started collecting biometric data without any legislative back-up. We have come up with an Aadhaar legislation which has a very tough privacy law embedded in it,” said Prasad.

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  1. J
    Joe
    Aug 25, 2017 at 1:07 pm
    The BJP try to pretend like they are different from the congress but they are no better. They can say 2 contradictory things at the same time with a straight face. Maybe the people need to give them another 60 years to rule before they can see the obvious. They are as corrupt as the congress and added to that incompetent. Congress cow.
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      Reader
      Aug 25, 2017 at 12:11 pm
      Why the United Kingdom's biometrics-linked National Ident-ity Card project to create a centralized register of sensitive information about residents similar to Aadhaar was scrapped in 2010??? The reasons were the massive threat posed to the privacy of people, the possibility of a surveillance state, the dangers of maintaining such a huge centralized repository of sensitive information, and the purposes it could be used for, and the dangers of such a centralized database being hacked. The other reasons were the unreliability of such a large-scale biometric verification processes, and the ethics of using biometric identification.
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        Jim
        Aug 25, 2017 at 12:11 pm
        That means UPA did not do the necessary hard work to protect aadhar
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        1. R
          Reader
          Aug 25, 2017 at 12:10 pm
          The US Social Security Number has no biometric details, no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name. Instead, a driver's license or state ID card is used as an identification for adults.
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            Reader
            Aug 25, 2017 at 12:10 pm
            The privacy laws of the United States deal with several different legal concepts. One is the invasion of privacy, a tort based in common law allowing an aggrieved party to bring a lawsuit against an individual who unlawfully intrudes into his or her private affairs, discloses his or her private information, publicizes him or her in a false light, or appropriates his or her name for personal gain. The essence of the law derives from a right to privacy, defined broadly as "the right to be let alone."
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