Aadhaar Gives State A Switch To Cause Civil Death Of An Individual, Petitioners Argue
If the Aadhaar Act is allowed to continue, it will transform People’s Constitution into a State Constitution, argued petitioners on Day 1 of the hearing challenging the validity of the biometric ID. The constitution firmly repudiates Aadhaar, they said.
The five-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Wednesday began hearing a batch of petitions challenging Aadhaar and the government’s plan to link with welfare and public services.
‘’The State is empowered with a ‘switch’ by which it can cause the civil death of an individual,” says the opening statements submitted in the court by the petitioners. “Where every basic facility is linked to Aadhaar and one cannot live in a society without an Aadhaar number, the switching off of Aadhaar completely destroys the individual.’’
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Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, the first one to argue on behalf of the petitioners, said the Aadhaar programme alters the relation between the state and the citizen as well as leading to exclusion in certain instances.
Here’s what Divan argued:
- The government has rolled out a little-understood programme that seeks to tether every resident of India to an electronic leash. This leash is connected to a central data base that is designed to track transactions across the life of the citizen.
- This record will enable the State to profile citizens, track their movements, assess their habits and silently influence their behaviour.
- Over time, the profiling enables the State to stifle dissent and influence political decision making.
- The argument that privacy is an elitist concern was not accepted even by the nine-judge bench which had held that privacy is a fundamental right.
Later, the petitioners sought to question the manner in which the Aadhaar Act, 2016 was passed. The law was passed as a Money Bill, against which a petition was filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. It’s among the petitions the top court is hearing.
The Chief Justice of India observed that there is an earlier judgement that discretion of Speaker on whether a legislation is a money bill cannot be contested in court. The petitioners sought to reply saying that such a position is contrary to earlier Constitution bench judgments.
The arguments will continue on Thursday.