The Centre on Monday offered to submit the Srikrishna Committee report on data protection, but the Supreme Court said it did not think this was necessary. Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that the report was out and he could submit it to the court. But the CJI, after consulting the other two judges, said this was not necessary.
In its report submitted last week, the Srikrishna Committee proposed amendments in the Aadhaar Act and new safeguards to protect information of Aadhaar holders. It pointed out that the current Aadhaar Act is silent on the powers of the UIDAI to take enforcement action against errant companies.
The three judges are part of a five-judge Constitution bench, which, on May 10, reserved its order on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act. The bench, which included Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, began hearing the matter on January 17.
The petitioners have contended that the Act violates the fundamental right to privacy. Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium argued that it undermined the dignity of an individual. He said that if the Act was struck down, the current database of user details should be destroyed and those who suffered due to failure of authentication should be paid damages.
Defending Aadhaar, the government said it would help curb black money and ensure that subsidies under social welfare scheme reach the deserving. The government said it had saved several thousands of crores of rupees after linking Aadhaar with social welfare schemes.
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, also appearing for the petitioners, said the fight against unaccounted money, however, does not justify erasing constitutional values. The petitioners have also challenged the introduction of the Aadhaar Bill as a money Bill. Senior Advocate P Chidambaram said there were several implications of a non-money Bill being passed as money Bill. It involves a violation of the basic structure, he contended.
The main petition challenging the Aadhaar scheme was filed by retired Karnataka High Court Judge K S Puttaswamy in 2012. Subsequently, several other petitions were filed on different aspects of the project, but the court only allowed 30 of them.