Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 7 October
The Supreme Court will tomorrow hear a batch of petitions, including the one filed by social worker like Aruna Roy against the implementation of the Aadhaar scheme or the “Unique Identification Number” System (UID), by linking it to various welfare schemes.
The petition of Roy and others came up before a bench comprising Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde which said it will be heard along with the applications filed by the Centre and the three oil PSUs seeking modification of its earlier order that Aadhaar card is not mandatory and no person should suffer for want of it in getting benefits of government schemes.
“…the enrolment under the UIDAI scheme is purportedly voluntary – yet many welfare schemes of the State seem to mandate the need for an Aadhaar number to access those schemes – effectively making Aadhaar enrolment compulsory,” the petition filed by social workers said.
The petition also said the manner in which the biometric details of the citizens are collected by private contractors and NGOs hired by UIDAI without any safeguard makes it prone to misuse not only by private actors but also by the State.
“In the present day and age, where every country is facing the problem of identity frauds, usage of fake identities for money laundering, terrorism, etc., UID is letting private contractors collect sensitive data of persons, which is not protected or governed under any law, whatsoever.
The petitioners also claimed there is an empirical research to show that the biometric identification denoted for UID, namely the Iris Scan and finger print Identification, is faulty and capable of misuse.
“Without a statutory framework determining accountability, data-protection, offences for violation etc., UID is putting in jeopardy not only life and rights of people but also security of our country,” the petitioners said.
The petition also said the scheme violates the fundamental rights of the citizens and the government is practically making it mandatory for seeking benefits under various welfare schemes such as PDS, MNERGA, pensions, scholarships, Janani Suraksha Yojana and LPG connections meant for economically weaker sections whose lives and livelihood depend on such schemes.
Those who do not manage to enrol are ultimately excluded and since it involves dependency on machines, any technical failure would mean delay with no alternative, it said.
The petition said implementing the UID system in its present form amounts to direct infringement on fundamental rights of the citizens because of the lack of data protection.
Earlier, the SC had said that the Aadhaar card was not mandatory for availing any government services.