Supreme Court Bench Puts Aadhaar Scheme to Stand On Basis of Doubts Regarding Surveillance

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in the Supreme Court today questioned the government’s order of making Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users. SC highlighted the fact that Aadhaar ruling which was done previously by the court was used as a ‘tool’. The bench which also consisted of renowned justices like Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan on hearing array of petitions challenging Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law, said its order on a PIL filed by ‘Lokniti Foundation’ had ruled that it was because of national interest that mobile users had to be verified using Aadhaar.

aadhaar-details-linked-sims

In an official statement, the bench said: “In fact, there was no such direction from the Supreme Court, but you took it and used it as a toll to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users.” Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi in the hearing subtly pointed out that the notification which Department of Telecommunication (DoT) issued, discussed about re-verification of mobile numbers by using e-KYC process and also the Telegraph Act granted “exclusive power to the central government to decide license conditions” of service providers.

To this statement, the bench countered by asking “How can you (DoT) impose a condition on service recipients for seeding Aadhaar with mobile phones,” and also clarified that the license agreements existed between the government and the service providers and the users were not involved.

Dwivedi said that the modus operandi which was taken up to link users’ Aadhaar with their phone numbers was done according to Trai’ recommendations. He further added that the government was fully entitled and had legitimate state interest to ensure that a sim card is given to only those people who applied for it. This way Dwivedi emphasised the absence of intention of surveillance of users on the government’s part.

Dwivedi further debated saying “My submission is that the government had a legal basis to link Aadhaar with SIM by virtue of section 4 of the Telegraph Act and also, the measure is reasonable in the interest of national security.” He also went onto say the that the Aadhaar scheme was being “unfairly targeted” and also that the chosen course of action was carried out because no one was batting an eye towards telecom companies or banks.

He also pointed out saying that the telecom companies were a much bigger database for public information “For example, Vodafone has a much bigger database of information even without Aadhaar. The Aadhaar data is immaterial for them.” He went onto say “Appreciate the fact as to how much information a bank possesses about its customers. Every transaction as to what I purchase by using cards, where and when, all this information is with banks. Aadhaar does not tell all this. This information are already there and is being used for commercial purposes.”

The lawyer also pointed out that people were being “scared” of Aadhaar but “nobody questions the telecom companies, banks…. Their single target is Aadhaar.” Dwivedi also furnished information about an application on the Google Play Store which published extensive information about people after being used by him and his family. The bench was taken aback at the revelation as Dwivedi went on illustrating how the website contained information like how much he charged from the Jammu and Kashmir government for appearing in a case. The advocate said out pointing out that UIDAI enjoyed control over both private and government entities who sought to provide authentication services to the general public.

He said the following while demonstrating that these entities could not track people like the public was fearing “Vodafone can do targeted advertising using the data which is already happening without Aadhaar. Vodafone has far more demographic data about an individual than UIDAI has.” He further added defending the Aadhaar scheme “Google and Facebook process tremendous data on a daily basis. UIDAI does not have that kind of algorithm.”

At last, the advocate made his case saying that the Aadhaar scheme should be saved and asked for SC’s input on the same to bring the scheme to its righteous path.

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12 Comments on "Supreme Court Bench Puts Aadhaar Scheme to Stand On Basis of Doubts Regarding Surveillance"

 

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dragonmonk
April 27, 2018 10:51 am 10:51 AM

What’s with all the beating around the bush?

Supreme Court: We never asked you to link Aadhaar to mobile number, but your notification says that Supreme Court ordered this. Why?

Current Government: Err… Telecom operators are bound to do what we ask them to do. So, we asked them to link. It has nothing to do with your order.

Supreme Court: But your telecom license agreement is with Operators for telecom license. How can you ask mobile users to submit their Aadhaar? They are not bound by any license agreement with you.

Current Government: Err…. (liar, liar, pants on fire)

vijay
April 26, 2018 10:39 pm 10:39 PM

whats use? every sim card seller is asking for adhar and biomatric
nobody allowing from normal routine forsim

dragonmonk
April 27, 2018 11:01 am 11:01 AM

There is a little bit of hope, no matter how little, that the Supreme court will fix this nonsense.

vijay
April 26, 2018 10:38 pm 10:38 PM

Vodafone has a much bigger database of information ,can anybody elaborate?

dragonmonk
April 27, 2018 10:59 am 10:59 AM
Vodafone: Govt lawyer was saying that you already gave Vodafone your address, DOB etc etc when you bought your sim card. And they can track who you called from where and when and how long did you speak etc etc. This is the information any telecom operator has. Government lawyer’s logic is like this: Google has your info, Facebook has your info, Banks have your info. Why can’t we have your info? People arguing against: I can choose to not use google, I can delete or not join facebook, I can decide not to use a bank or banks at… Read more »
vijay
April 27, 2018 4:18 pm 4:18 PM

other telco also has same info,why only vodaphone?

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