UIDAI moves towards digital payment with Aadhaar enabled payment systems. (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Data Collected Before Aadhaar Act Was Unconstitutional, Argues Gopal Subramaniam For Petitioners

Senior Advocate Gopal Subramaniam argued today that the use of Aadhaar, India’s unique biometric-based identification number, by various states, central government and body corporates is a violation of an earlier order of the Supreme Court.

The apex court had, in 2015, circumscribed the use of Aadhaar only to select government schemes and ruled that it cannot be made mandatory until a final decision was made by the court’s constitutional bench.

In January, a constitutional bench began hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar Act and use of Aadhaar across government and private services. The hearing is in its 12th day with Subramaniam arguing on behalf of petitioners.

He stated that all data collection done before the Aadhaar Act was legislated was done so unconstitutionally and without the backing of a law.

‘’When there is an invasion of fundamental rights, it cannot be held to be a cured subsequently by a legislation. And in this particular case, even the executive did not have any power to do what they did in that period,” argued Subramaniam.

During the hearing the bench observed that while the law can come into effect retrospectively the government will have to provide a response on the issue of breach of data in that period.

Subramaniam also emphasised that the state cannot deny benefits to a citizen due to the lack of an Aadhaar card or number. “How can you treat citizens like this,” he asked.

He also emphasised that there is no adequate redressal mechanism when it comes to violations of the Aadhaar Act and in the implementation of Aadhaar.

Subramaniam will continue his arguments tomorrow.