An Aadhaar card holder can block his card along with his demographic and biometric information if he wants to opt out of the UID system. This lesser-known fact came into public domain on Wednesday when the government tried to convince the Supreme Court that Aadhaar is “purely voluntary”.
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu had sought to know from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi about the nature of Aadhaar cards prepared under the aegis of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
“The making of the card is voluntary. Using the card is voluntary and not only this, a card holder can block it too. If a person wants to block the information about him contained in the biometric database, he can do it voluntarily and nobody will be able to unblock it. Such information will be locked till he wants,” Rohatgi retorted.
After a three-judge bench had refused to modify its directive restricting Aadhaar’s use to public distribution system and LPG subsidy, the law officer was seeking the Constitution Bench’s nod so that Aadhaar could be used for the government’s ambitious plans such as Digital India, and by Reserve Bank of India and various regulators.
It is for the first time that the government or the UIDAI has disclosed that a mechanism exists under which a card holder can choose to block the biometric information linked to his Aadhaar card.
Sources said this mechanism was introduced some time back following clamour from rights activists that Aadhaar allegedly trampled upon the right to privacy and that once enrolled, a card holder could not de-register.
Meanwhile, the bench asked Rohatgi if the government’s concept of “voluntariness” will be consistent with the plans to make Aadhaar a pre-requisite for providing benefits under social welfare schemes. Rohatgi said Aadhaar was “purely voluntary” and if somebody does not want to have a card or does not want to use it, he may decide to do so “but 92 crore card holders cannot be deprived of the benefits because some are opposed to it”.