Last Saturday Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issued a press release stating that carrying Aadhaar card is not necessary to extract benefit of essential benefits or services like, hospitalization, education, medical help, etc.
The authority also mentioned that same is forbidden in the Aadhaar act under the virtue of Section 7, denying essential and other service for want of Aadhaar are punishable under the respective laws of the land.
The press release comes while the Supreme Court’s constitution bench is deciding the validity of Aadhaar (Targeted Deliveries of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act of 2016. Many senior advocates have expressed their discontent with the Aadhaar system and how it is violating right to privacy. Advocate Kapil Sibal is appearing before the court on behalf of all the petitioners.
The press release also comes in the wake of many issues reported in the news where essential services are denied or delayed because of want of Aadhaar card. Such event was reported on Saturday itself where a 25 year old pregnant woman was denied ultrasound because she was not carrying her Aadhaar card with her. The civil hospital in Gurugram denied admitting her and she had to deliver her baby girl outside the ward in the parking lot. Truly the incident showed how humanity was compromised at the hands of blind procedures. Similar cases have been on the rise, hence the press release.
The five judges’ constitution bench resumed hearing the Aadhaar Act case on this Tuesday and continued their comparison of Biometric Database Law of Israel with the Aadhaar Act of 2016. The major difference is that in Israel the ID cards are voluntary and even though Section 3 of the Aadhaar Act states the card to be free and voluntary, it has for sure gained a mandatory character.
There have been five main challenges to Aadhaar Act:-
- Right to privacy
- Procedure under the act violates article 14,21
- Destructs notion of limited government
- It is not a money bill.
The bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Mishra , A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal to continue advancing his arguments on the aspect of exclusion of citizens and made it clear that it would not pass any interim order.
Mr. Sibal stated “Accumulation of all information in one entity accords tremendous power of control to the entity and restraining enjoyment thereof for the want of Aadhaar constitutes an infringement of the Fundamental Rights. One’s right to livelihood cannot be so curtailed. The Aadhaar project does not pass the tests of Article 14 and 21” in his argument.
Mr. Sibal has also stated that this is the most important case after the independence. In his argument he had elaborated various ways where the information provided in the form of aadhaar card can be misused and how it is violative of Chapter III of the constitution.
Surely this is a digital age where knowledge is only an internet connection away, but is India ready for it?
The Supreme Court will resume hearing on Thursday, 15th feb 2018.
By: Neha Bargotra, Student Reporter, INBA