Retired Justice K S Puttaswamy at 88 years is not your habitual Public Interest Litigation filer.
This is the first time he has filed a PIL and with that he has shaken one of the most-ambitious programs rolled out by Government of India – the Unique Identification Authority of India.
The Supreme Court on Monday in its interim order said that that this Unique identity can only be issued to those with proven Indian nationality and cannot be mandatory for accessing public services and subsidies.
Referred as ‘Aadhaar’ and started in February 2009, it aims to provide a unique identity (UID) number to all Indians and the authority will maintain a database of residents containing biometric and other data.
Mention biometric and Justice Puttaswamy bristles.
“It is a clear violation of citizens privacy and among various other reasons this program was rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, but still the Government of India went ahead with it. How can this awfully wrong program roll out without a clear legislation,” Puttaswamy argues passionately and on the reasons why he went ahead and filed the PIL for scrapping this project.
"It is a big surprise when the Centre can go ahead with this project when there is no Bill passed in the Parliament. What we want is that the executive and legislature must function within the frame work of the Constitutional provisions so that Government does not circumvent the legislature to avoid discussion, debate and voting in the Parliament and thereby render the legislature redundant or purposeless," he explained.
“It is a very difficult proposition to get a PIL admitted in SC. The SC will not admit any sundry PILs and it is indeed heartening that SC admitted and we got the interim order yesterday,” Puttaswamy told Business Standard.
He said that what is more worrying from the ‘Aadhar’ project that is being pushed in as mandatory for accessing some of the essential services and that should not happen.
A man of immense integrity right through his career starting from 1952 in the Old Mysore Court in Karnataka, Puttaswamy has lived a sparkling career.
He was the Government of Karnataka counsel for over a decade during which he argued on various state development issues, but never took a leaning towards any political affiliations or ambitions.
People close to Puttaswamy hold him in high regard and say that there is not a single blemish on him during his career as an advocate or even post his retirement, when he was Vice Chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal, Bangalore Bench, Bangalore , Chairman of Andhra Pradesh Administrative Tribunal, Hyderabad and also Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Backward Class Commission.