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SC seeks Centre's response on PIL challenging Aadhaar project

Petition claims private parties outsourced to collect citizens' data can misuse massive personal information in their hands

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The asked the Centre on Monday to state within two weeks its stand on the unique identification (UID) project, A Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu was hearing a new public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the project.

According to the petition moved by Mathew Thomas, private parties who have been outsourced to collect information about citizens can misuse the massive personal data in their hands, as happened in a few cases. At present, UID is not under government control, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium argued.

Although another petition - moved by a retired Karnataka High Court judge challenging the project of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime - is already pending in the apex court, the new PIL specifically challenges the validity of Section 14-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. This provision makes it compulsory for every citizen to get her details entered into the Register of The petition says this provision is unconstitutional.

“It is not the mandate of the to collect statistics and details of residents and citizens in India which detail is to be collected only under the Census Act. Whether or not a person’s name has to be included as a citizen in the NRIC (Registration Identity Card) cannot be decided by the officer entering such details in the Population Register; and further, it seeks to collect private data of the citizens without providing for any restriction on its disclosure, use and transmission,” the petition emphasised.

After hearing Subramanium, the judges called Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to the court and asked him the government’s stand. He said he needed two weeks to clarify the official stand. Thus, the case will be taken up on February 13.

Subramanium submitted that standing committee chairman Yashwant Sinha had written a detailed statement cautioning the government against the UID scheme. He said that the UK, Australia and some European countries have scrapped similar schemes on fear of violation of privacy.

The petition stated that while the UID enrolment form itself does not seek information concerning ones’ religion, the same is easily discernible from a person’s name. Further, the application form of certain banks such as State Bank of India require a client to disclose information such as caste, income and religion. This enables anyone having access to UID database to profile the population on the basis of any of the identity traits, it is argued.

First Published: Tue, February 03 2015. 00:48 IST