The Supreme Court on Friday (July 5) asked the Centre and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to respond to a petition which has challenged the validity of the 2019 Aadhaar Ordinance.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and B R Gavai issued notices to them on a PIL challenging the validity of Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 and Aadhaar (Pricing of Aadhaar Authentication Services) Regulations, 2019. The Ordinance was published in the Gazette of India in March 2019.
The petitioners — retired Army officer S G Vombatkere and human rights activist Bezwada Wilson — have alleged in their plea that the Ordinance and the regulations violate the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under the Constitution.
“The impugned Ordinance creates a backdoor to permit private parties to access the Aadhaar ecosystem, thus enabling state and private surveillance of citizens and the impugned regulations permit the commercial exploitation of personal and sensitive information which has been collected and stored for state purposes only,” claimed the PIL, filed through advocate Vipin Nair.
It has sought a direction to declare that private entities, which have access to Aadhaar database, are under a public duty to ensure that Aadhaar numbers and available data are not stored by them.
It claimed that the 2019 regulations are violative of the fundamental rights of privacy and property and it should be declared unconstitutional.
The plea claimed that the Ordinance and the 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 purpose of state (by permitting private parties to access the Aadhaar database), which were specifically declared unconstitutional in the Aadhaar case”.
“The purported utilisation of the same for e-KYC and verification of identity for the use of services is manifestly arbitrary and compromises national security and the integrity of the financial system of the country,” it claimed.
It alleged that through the 2019 Regulations, the UIDAI expressly seeks to commercialise and gain financially through the large-scale collection of citizens private data and the use of Aadhaar database by private entities.
It said that permitting commercialisation of citizens data is a violation of their dignity under the Constitution.
On September 26 last year, a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had declared the Centres flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but had struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.