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Aadhaar will cause death of civil rights of citizens, says petitioner to SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday started the hearing of a petition challenging the validity of the Aadhaar system.

The petitioners told the five-judge Constitution bench in the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the Aadhaar data base “tends to terrorise citizens with the country becoming a totalitarian regime” as there is “no free consent in furnishing biometric information for Aadhaar.”

The petitioners also said that Aadhaar is transforming the country into a “surveillance state.”

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, said that Aadhaar will cause the death of civil rights of the citizens and transform a people’s Constitution into a State’s Constitution.”

Former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani, however, again defended the system, saying that India’s achievement with the Aadhaar is in itself a revolution.

“We must remember, however, that systems are not born through Immaculate conception, they get there through constant improvements,” he tweeted.

“Aadhaar does not exclude or compromise privacy. It is an assertion of individual identity vis-à-vis the state. We’re all in this together to achieve opportunity, development and empowerment of our billion people!” Nilekani added.

In August, 2017, a nine-judge bench of SC had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had also claimed it violated privacy rights.

The issue regarding the validity of Aadhaar and possible leakage of data has surfaced time and again since the inception of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number.

Besides, a recent report in The Tribune had exposed the fact that the Aadhaar database could be essentially bought on the internet only for Rs 500. UIDAI then filed an FIR against Tribune reporter Rachna Khaira for her report that unknown agents had provided her access to Aadhaar’s demographic database for Rs 500.

The Supreme Court has also received petitions regarding the linkage of this 12-digit number with mobile phones, bank accounts and with other services, the last date for which was extended to March 31, 2018.

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