New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Aadhaar petitioners what their problem was with sharing address proof with the government when they had no objection sharing it with private parties.
Justice D Y Chandrachud, one of the five judges of the Constitution Bench, said, "If you need insurance, you go to a private party. If you need a phone, you go to a private party… If private player asks for address proof, it is okay. But if government asks the same, then (the argument is) it’s at the core of my identity."
“If you apply for a job, the first thing they ask is your address proof, and salary is admitted to a private bank,” he added.
Justice A K Sikri, another judge of the bench told advocate Shyam Divan, who was appearing for the petitioners that their argument seems to be if one gives their passbook, all transaction details will be accessed which does not seem to be a case with Aadhaar.
Divan argued that there is a difference in sharing information with a private party known to one and an unknown one.
He raised the question whether the state can compel a citizen to give their information to a private party which is completely out of Unique Identification Authority of India's (UIDAI) control and which is then free to put this to commercial use.
At this, Justice Chandrachud said the court would like to know what safeguards were put in place by UIDAI to protect personal data.
Divan said that the argument that enrolling for Aadhaar is voluntary becomes redundant if it is mandatory to provide it for all services.
Referring to the introducer system — a person had to be introduced by a person already with Aadhaar — Divan said this was meant for people who did not have any identity since the government argument was that there were many who did not have any identity and Aadhaar was intended to help them.
But according to information accessed under the Right to Information, only 219,096 out of 93 crore Aadhaars, that is only 0.0003 per cent, were generated using the introducer system, Divan informed the Court.
Divan also said the petitioners' concerns regarding maintenance of information collected by private enrollers was confirmed and increased by a government statement itself.
The statement that Divan was referring to was one made on April 10, 2017, which stated that in the last six years, the government cancelled and blacklisted 34,000 petitioners trying to pollute the system.
Action had been taken against 1,000 petitioner since December 2016, but news reports of September 12, 2017, show that UIDAI had learnt of such contraventions by private enrollers and blacklisted 49,000 operators, Divan said....