UID scheme challenged in Indian Supreme court
NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court on 07th December admitted a Writ and agreed to examine the legal sanctity behind the much hyped Aadhaar cards being prepared by the Unique Identification Authority which will be the sole proof for the government’s scheme for direct transfer of cash to a poor person’s account.
A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J Chelameswar issued notice to the Centre on a PIL by a retired judge of Karnataka high court, K S Puttaswamy, who alleged that the government, by going ahead with distribution of UID numbers and cards to citizens, was bypassing Parliament which was still considering a bill on this issue.
The PIL said collection of personal data by the government not only violated the citizen’s fundamental right to privacy but was also an executive act in overreach of Parliament, where National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, was still pending for consideration.
Senior advocate Anil Divan questioned the grant of UID numbers and Aadhaar cards to illegal migrants at a time when the bill was pending before Parliament and its standing committee had rejected the bill in its report. The PIL requested the court to restrain the government from issuing UID numbers and Aadhaar cards till Parliament took a decision on the bill.
When the bench said Parliament could debate the standing committee’s report and decide not to accept it, Divan said this could happen only through a informed debate on the floor of Parliament and the government could not have pre-empted the outcome of the debate through an executive action.
The petitioners said they had ascertained that the Unique Identification Number Project proposed to give UID numbers not only to citizens but also illegal migrants pursuant to a scheme framed by the government through an executive order of January 28, 2009.
Referring to several judgments of the Supreme Court on right to privacy of a citizen guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the petitioners said, “Collecting biometric information as a condition precedent for the issue of Aadhaar card is an invasion of right to privacy of citizens and thereby this can only be done by a law enacted by Parliament and hence, beyond the executive power.”
The petitioners asked, “Can executive power be used in a manner so as to make legislative power redundant or in other words, whether by the exercise of executive power, the executive can circumvent Parliament?”