Govt will decide if Aadhaar will be mandatory for flying after SC gives ruling | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Govt will decide if Aadhaar will be mandatory for flying after SC gives ruling

The government is pushing for wide use of the 12-digit Aadhaar number that critics and activists are opposing over fears of possible data breach and privacy concerns.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 16:11 IST
Suchetana Ray
A CISF security personnel check a passenger’s documents at the IGI Airport in New Delhi.
A CISF security personnel check a passenger’s documents at the IGI Airport in New Delhi. (HT File Photo)

The government will wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling on Aadhaar to decide if the 12-digit biometric authentication can be made mandatory for flying in India.

The top court’s recent ruling making privacy a “guaranteed fundamental right” is likely to test the validity of Aadhaar, which the government has been pushing for wide use but opposed by critics and activists over fears of possible data breach and privacy concerns.

Officials said a pilot project is already under way in two airports to assess the viability and convenience of the project.

“The pilot projects are going on for sometime. Given that a Supreme Court bench will start hearing the challenges against Aadhaar from November, there is no point in notifying the rule immediately,” said a government official, who did not wish to be named.

Officials said mandating Aadhaar and biometric authentication will make it easier for airlines in resolving several security issues. Airlines will also be able to easily detect passengers in the no-fly list.

Some private airlines said Aadhaar could take care of several problems.

“Otherwise, scanning through millions of air travellers everyday makes it a tedious process for airlines. There could be so many people with the same name leading to confusion,” said a source in a private airline.

Availability of Aadhaar will also help airlines in curbing human trafficking.

“All identity proofs are allowed at airports from driving license to passport. Biometric authentication with the Aadhaar number will streamline the process of security checks,” the added.

But those who have legally challenged the government’s move to make Aadhaar a primary identity proof for Indians, are against the linking of number with air travel.

“This is a way for the government and tax authorities to track air travel by Indians. This a breach of privacy and if notified we will challenge it,” said an activist who is part of the group of petitioners against Aadhaar. He did not wish to be named.

“Seeding Aadhaar with air travel will lead to disruption and exclusion. We have seen this happen wherever biometric authentication has been made mandatory. Apart from the concerns of surveillance, it has also hampered the delivery of the service,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, co-Convenor of National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.