It is well know that In a recent judgment, Supreme Court has reiterated it earlier stand that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card and it will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.
“no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant”
It was submitted by Shri Shyam Divan, learned counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners having pointed out a serious breach of privacy in their submissions, preceding the reference, this Court may grant an injunction restraining the authorities from proceeding further in the matter of obtaining biometrics etc. for an Aadhaar card. Shri Shyam Divan submitted that the biometric information of an individual can be circulated to other authorities or corporate bodies which, in turn can be used by them for commercial exploitation and, therefore, must be stopped.
Contentions of the Government:
1. Supreme Court has at no point of time, even while making the interim order dated 23.9.2013 granted an injunction restraining the Unique Identification Authority of India from going ahead and obtaining biometric or other information from a citizen for the purpose of a Unique Identification Number, better known as “Aadhaar card”. It was further submitted that the respondents have gone ahead with the project and have issued Aadhaar cards to about 90% of the population. Also that a large amount of money has been spent by the Union Government on this project for issuing Aadhaar cards and that in the circumstances, none of the well-known consideration for grant of injunction are in favour of the petitioners.
2. The Government respondents do not share any personal information of an Aadhaar card holder through biometrics or otherwise with any other person or authority. This statement allays the apprehension for now, that there is a widespread breach of privacy of those to whom an Aadhaar card has been issued. It was further contended on behalf of the petitioners that there still is breach of privacy. This is a matter which need not be gone into further at this stage.
3. Aadhaar card is of great benefit since it ensures an effective implementation of several social benefit schemes of the Government like MGNREGA, the distribution of food, ration and kerosene through PDS system and grant of subsidies in the distribution of LPG. It was, therefore, submitted that restraining the respondents from issuing further Aadhaar cards or fully utilising the existing Aadhaar cards for the social schemes of the Government should be allowed.
4. Government would ensure that Aadhaar cards would only be issued on a consensual basis after informing the public at large about the fact that the preparation of Aadhaar card involving the parting of biometric information of the individual, which shall however not be used for any purpose other than a social benefit schemes.
We are of the view that the balance of interest would be best served, till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench if the Union of India or the UIDA proceed in the following manner:-
1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card; 2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;
3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;
4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation
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