New Delhi: While defending its move to link Aadhaar with PAN cards, the Centre on Wednesday admitted in the Supreme Court that Aadhaar card holders’ data was indeed leaked, but said that there was no leakage of information by the Unique Identification Authority of India.
Government counsel Arghya Sengupta made this admission before a bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan when the court brought to his notice newspaper reports about leakage of Aadhaar data.
Counsel said that the leakage was by various other government departments and state agencies, and the leakage might have occurred on account of balancing transparency and data protection concerns.
Mr Sengupta said there could be some errors “here and there” and some IDs were “perhaps issued” in the names of “Hanuman” and “dogs”, but said UID remains the most sophisticated and authentic biometric system.
He said there was no absolute right to informational self-determination. “The issue was not about discriminating between people on the basis of their having Aadhaar, but the purpose for UID was to prevent de-duplication and to ensure targeted delivery of services to the identified sections,” he said.
He said that no enactment could solve a problem in its entirety and added that individuals and not companies were required to have Aadhaar since individuals were the first target.
Centre: Aadhaar may replace PAN
“Tomorrow, we may replace PAN with Aadhaar if such a need arises,” said government counsel Arghya Sengupta.
Senior lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for Major General S.G. Vombatkere (retired) and social activist Bezwada Wilson, rejected counsel’s argument that there was no leakage from UIDAI and said it was not enough for the Centre to say that UIDAI was not leaking data. “In the eyes of citizens, all state authorities are State anyway.”
He said when the Aadhaar law had not made Aadhaar mandatory, how can the new law make linking of Aadhaar with PAN mandatory and impose penal provisions for non-compliance.
Mr Divan drew the court’s attention to a report that Haryana had made Aadhaar compulsory for issuance of birth certificates to newborn babies, and said that the scheme makes wholetime surveillance, from cradle to the grave, possible.
“This is perhaps the worst project possible under our Constitution and invasion of privacy. The architecture of Aadhaar is worthless as far as information security is concerned,” he said. “We are concerned with one-seventh of the total population of the world in the wake of a scheme where the degree of invasion is extremely high and protection much low. This system has never been tried in any democratic country. It shows the sinisterness of the government action. We don’t want our life tracked and monitored 24x7 as it be a tremendous compromise on civil liberties,” he said....