SC seeks reply from Centre on Aadhaar Amendments Challenge

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Central Government and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on a petition filed jointly by retired Indian Army Officers S G Vombatkare and Human Rights activist Bezwada Wilson, challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the Aadhaar (Pricing of Aadhaar Authentication Services) Regulations, 2019.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan appeared for the petitioners before a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde and Justice B R Gavai.

The petitioners have submitted that the said Act created a backdoor entry to private parties to access the Aadhaar eco-system, thus enabling state and private surveillance of citizens. The regulations also permitted the commercial exploitation of personal and sensitive information, collected and stored for state purposes only, they have claimed.

“The Aadhaar Act, 2019 and Regulations are manifestly unconstitutional as they seek to re-legislate the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 which enabled commercial exploitation of personal information collected for the purposes of the state (by permitting private parties to access the Aadhaar database), which were specifically declared unconstitutional in Supreme Court’s decision dated September 26, 2018, in Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India,” the petitioners have said.

They further submitted that through the regulations, the UIDAI expressly sought to commercialize and gain financially through the large-scale collection of citizens’ private data and the use of Aadhaar database by private entities.  People’s data, which was collected for the Aadhaar database, is their private property and permitting this to be commercialized is an impermissible violation of their dignity under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution, the petitioners have contended.

Earlier the Supreme Court had issued notice on a petition challenging the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, which had subsequently been replaced by an Act of Parliament on July 28, 2019. Today, the court while issuing the notice on a plea challenging the Act also tagged the petition with the petition challenging the Ordinance.


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