What the court says on right to privacy?
- Two court verdicts (1950s), handed out by large benches consisting of 8 and 6 judges respectively, had ruled that the right to privacy cannot be a fundamental right.
- In 1963, another SC judgment by a six-judge bench had confirmed the same ruling.
- 25 decisions delivered by smaller benches however inverted this decision and the right to privacy started getting recognised as a Fundamental right.
India lacks a privacy law
As far as the right to privacy is concerned, India has no such privacy law and the same has been interpreted in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution by the Indian Supreme Court.
What is the Aadhar card?
- On behalf of the Government of India, the Unique Identification Authority of India issued a 12 digit individual identification number known as Aadhar.
- This number was meant to serve as a proof of "identity and address, anywhere in India."
- Aadhar aims to provide a unique identity which can then be utilised by any identity-based application like passport, ration card etc.
80 million Aadhar cards issued so far
By July 2015, the Government has issued as many as 80 million Aadhar cards, only 20 million short of its 1 billion target.
SC asks government to not insist on Aadhar
- The Supreme Court issued a vociferous warning to the government on finding out that many authorities were insisting on Aadhar cards for giving government subsidies and other basic services to citizens.
- In clear terms, the SC ruled that "No person should be denied any benefits or "suffer" for not having the Aadhar cards issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India."
How is the privacy debate linked to Aadhar?
- The Aadhar authorities had collected personal biometric data of individuals through various centres, without any law backing it.
- Moreover, UIDAI had used many private parties to collect the data which led to the potential of it being misused.
- Further, the information can be leaked or used for unintended purposes such as snooping as there is no law guranteed by the government to safeguard it.
Right to privacy isn't a fundamental right: Government
- The government counsel told the Supreme Court that Indian citizens cannot claim the right to privacy.
- The argument was advanced by Mukul Rohatgi, the Attorney General saying that the "Constitution makers did not intend to make right to privacy a fundamental right".
- The argument came as Rohatgi defended the Aadhar card which is being blamed for its 'intrusive nature' of storing people's information insecurely.