The Centre admitted on Wednesday that the reported leaks of Aadhaar card details to commercial organisations happened from certain government departments but denied it was from the office of Unique Identification Authority of India.
“The leaks are from other government departments as they have trouble balancing transparency and data protection concerns, it is not from UIDAI office,” government counsel A Sengupta told a bench headed by justice AK Sikri.
Sengupta is the founder of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a New Delhi-based think-tank. Vidhi assisted the government in framing the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
Sengupta made the admission after the bench referred to news report in a national daily about the leak of details to private commercial and marketing agencies in different states. He said that government departments were having trouble balancing transparency and data protection.
The bench is hearing petitions against the Centre’s latest move to amend the Income Tax law that makes Aadhaar card mandatory for filing Income-Tax returns and availing PAN cards. Assesses could lose their PAN cards if the linkage is not done before July 31.
The court pointed to petitioners’ apprehension that collection of citizens’ iris scans and fingerprints was a serious violation of their rights. Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners, rubbished the government’s defence. “Whether it is by a government department or UIDAI, it’s a matter of serious concern because it impinges upon my right to privacy,” he said.