Supreme Court Of India Prohibits UIDAI From Sharing Biometric Data With Indian Government Agencies Without Data Owner’s Consent

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLB Aadhar Project by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is the “Most Vicious Project” that has been undertaken by Indian Government so far. It is actively violating various Constitutional Protections as prescribed by Indian Constitution. The very existence of Aadhar is based upon Deception, Lie, Illegality and Unconstitutionality. Under the garb of Public Welfare, Indian Government has been pushing Draconian E-Surveillance Project that cannot withstand the tests of Constitutionality. Further, the very Collection of Biometrics Details of Indian residents/Citizen is Unconstitutional. UIDAI has also Validated E-Aadhaar as a Valid Document like Paper based Aadhaar Number.

Aadhar Project is also suffering from many Fallacies and Weaknesses. These include lack of Data Security, Cyber Security, Data Protection (PDF), Privacy Protection, etc. Recently, the Parliamentary Committee slammed Indian Government for Poor Privacy Laws in India. Indian Government and its Agencies have been violating Civil Liberties of Indians in Cyberspace for long. Privacy Rights in the Information Era need to be properly safeguarded by Indian Government to remain on the right side of the Constitution.

India has also launched E-Surveillance and Privacy Violating Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, etc. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny. Even the essential E-Surveillance Policy of India is missing till now.

It was natural that in these circumstances the Aadhar Project was bound to be challenged before various Courts in India. The Supreme Court of India is hearing one such case against Compulsory use of Aadhar Number for delivery of Public Services. The Supreme Court has already held in the past that Aadhar Number/Card cannot be made Mandatory for providing Public Services. Even the Banks in India have “Out Rightly Rejected” the demand of Reserve Bank of India to use Aadhaar Number/Card/Data by all new ATMs and Point of Sale (POS) Machines.

In another jolt to the Aadhar Project, the Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Centre and the UIDAI from sharing the vast biometric database of Aadhaar cards with any third party or agency without the consent of the registered person. The Court also directed that people cannot be denied any service or benefit for not having an Aadhaar card.  The court said any order passed by authorities to make Aadhaar mandatory shall be withdrawn immediately. On using the database in Criminal Investigation, a Bench led by Justice B S Chauhan said that information about fingerprints and other data could be shared only after a suspect approves it. This is a sensible direction by the Supreme Court and Indian Government must now focus more upon enactment of Privacy Law and a Law Governing UIDAI and its Illegal and Unconstitutional Biometrics Collections.