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Aadhaar hearing in Supreme Court: Here is what has happened so far

The hearing, which began on January 17, has seen the apex court flagging a range of issues over data security and citizen profiling while the government has tried to defend the scheme, saying Aadhaar data was fortified by 10-metre-high and 4-metre-wide walls.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 27, 2018 12:04:08 pm
The Aadhaar deadline might have been extended, but, heck, does that make for any less trouble? The Aadhaar case comes on the backdrop of a nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, ruling last year that privacy was a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. (Representational)

The Supreme Court, which has been hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and its mandatory seeding to avail of government benefits, on Wednesday questioned the Centre over its decision to link the UID with mobile phone numbers. Citing a February 17 order in the Lokniti Foundation case, a five-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said it had only asked if users should be verified in the interest of national security.

The hearing, which began on January 17, has seen the apex court flagging a range of issues over data security and citizen profiling while the government has tried to defend the scheme, saying Aadhaar data was fortified by 10-metre-high and 4-metre-wide walls.

The clutch of petitions have been clubbed with the first petition challenging Aadhaar, which was filed by former High Court Judge Justice KS Puttaswamy in 2012. He had argued that Aadhaar violated the right to privacy and had no legislative backing. The Aadhaar case comes on the backdrop of a nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, ruling last year that privacy was a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.

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Aadhaar case: Here is what has happened in the Supreme Court so far

11:56 (IST)27 Apr 2018
'Aadhaar can't be duplicated'

The Central government and the Unique Identification Authority of India on April 11 defended Aadhaar, saying that there were no instances of its duplication and cited the fiscal benefits of linking it with various subsidies, benefits and services, reported IANS. Asserting that duplicate Aadhaar cards are "non-existent", Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, arguing for the government and the UIDAI, told the five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra while there were a large number of duplicate PAN cards, there was none in Aadhaar.

22:27 (IST)26 Apr 2018
‘Collection of data will lead to totalitarianism’

Beginning its hearing, the Supreme Court on January 17 questioned the petitioner’s contention that collection of personal data under the Aadhaar scheme could lead to totalitarianism. To this, Justice Chandrachud said an individual should not have an objection to the state using their personal data to check if the person had paid their taxes. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal responded that citizens did not know how their personal information was being used by the government.

22:26 (IST)26 Apr 2018
‘One identity, one nation’

The Supreme Court said it found nothing wrong with “one identity, one nation”, as desired by the government. To this, Congress leader Kapil Sibal submitted that the “one-nation-one-identity” principle floated through the Aadhaar scheme left no room for alternative government-approved documents to establish a person’s identity. “Aadhaar becomes the sole record by which a person can establish his identity, or he runs the risk of a ‘civil death’,” Sibal said.

22:26 (IST)26 Apr 2018
SC vs Bengal govt

The Supreme Court has said issues such as 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 court made the observation while declining to pass any interim order on a plea of the West Bengal government that the citizens should not be excluded and denied social benefits for want of Aadhaar or due to its non-authentication.

21:55 (IST)26 Apr 2018
Aadhaar not must for NEET, exams

The Supreme Court has asked the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) not to make Aadhaar number mandatory for students who wanted to register for the National Eligibility-cum- Entrance Test (NEET) and other all-India examinations. The bench accepted the Centre’s contention that students may instead submit their passport, driving licence, bank account, Voters identity or ration card as proof of identity.

21:55 (IST)26 Apr 2018
Christian man seeks exemption from Aadhaar

Claiming that Aadhaar impinged on his religious beliefs and was against the tenets of the Bible, a Christian man has sought exemption from applying for the UID from the Supreme Court, becoming the first person in the country to do so. In his petition, before a five-judge Constitution bench hearing the Constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, petitioner John Abraham said: “It is clear that it is impossible for a person to go about their everyday lives without having an Aadhaar. Further, it is a biometric ID…This is similar to the warning issued in the Book of Revelation. Various interpretations of the book note that the ‘beast’ is symbolic of modern day political power. The Book, at Chapter 14, warns that anyone who receives such a number will face dire consequences.”

21:54 (IST)26 Apr 2018
Face authentication from July 1

Trying to allay fears over Aadhaar, the CEO of UIDAI told the Supreme Court that it doesn’t share biometric details of residents with anyone and it would take the fastest computer currently available, “more than the life of the universe” to break its 2048-bit encryption. Moreover, UIDAI said it would make face authentication available alongside iris or fingerprint scan as means of verifying Aadhaar users from July 1, 2018.

21:53 (IST)26 Apr 2018
Government extends linkage deadlines

After the Supreme Court refused to further extend the deadline for linking of Aadhaar with government schemes, the government has extended the same from March 31 to June 30. On December 15 last year, the apex court had extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes. The deadline for linking bank accounts and mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar has already been extended indefinitely.

21:50 (IST)26 Apr 2018
Chinks in Aadhaar Act?

The Supreme Court pointed out that the Aadhaar Act left it open as to what “biological attributes” of an individual could be added as biometric information and asked the Centre whether this would amount to a case of “excessive delegation” of power. Attorney general Venugopal replied that it could be tested in courts whenever such additions were made and the regulations would be placed before Parliament under Section 55 of the Act.

21:46 (IST)26 Apr 2018
‘Aadhaar to curb money laundering’

While replying to the petitioners’ contention that insisting Aadhaar from everyone for everything made people feel all of them were being treated with suspicion, the UIDAI said seeding Aadhaar with PAN and bank accounts and other facilities would help authorities in effectively dealing with the global threat of money laundering. However, the Supreme Court disagreed with UIDAI and said only due diligence by banks while giving loans would curb the menace of Non Performing Assets.

21:44 (IST)26 Apr 2018
SC on data collected before Aadhaar law

The Supreme Court rebutted the Centre’s defence that collection of biometric details had not infringed the right to privacy of the citizens even if these were collected before the enactment of a law on Aadhaar in 2016. Referring to two earlier apex court verdicts – M P Sharma (1950) and Kharak Singh (1962) cases – where the SC had held right to privacy was not a fundamental right, Attorney General K K Venugopal said the Centre and the UIDAI had not violated privacy rights while collecting biometric details between 2010 and 2016, when there was no law.

21:41 (IST)26 Apr 2018
SC questions UIDAI on metadata

On April 24, the Supreme Court has asked the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) why it needed to collect ‘metadata’ of personal transactions of citizens which go for Aadhaar authentication to avail services and benefits. Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. The UIDAI, however, said it collected “limited technical metadata” to have control over the requesting entities (REs) which seek Aadhaar authentication for granting services and benefits.

21:39 (IST)26 Apr 2018
Aadhaar linking to mobile numbers

The Supreme Court on April 25 questioned the Centre’s decision to link mobile numbers to Aadhaar number citing its February 2017 order in a PIL, and said that the order did not contain any such direction. “In fact, there was no such direction from the Supreme Court, but you took it and used it as tool to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users,” the SC said. To this, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for UIDAI, said the DoT notification was about re-verification of mobile numbers using e-KYC process. He added that the government was empowered under the Telegraph Act to decide on the license conditions of the service providers.

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