Aadhaar Act must be amended to give remedies and make it citizen-centric, says Justice Oka

Published on Nov 19, 2022 11:59 PM IST

Justice Oka was addressing a gathering of telecom operators, lawyers, policemen, students and government officials in Pune

Supreme Court Judge Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka has expressed concern over breach of confidential citizen data and urged them to seek legal remedies. (HT PHOTO)
Supreme Court Judge Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka has expressed concern over breach of confidential citizen data and urged them to seek legal remedies. (HT PHOTO)
ByNadeem Inamdar

Supreme Court Judge Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka has expressed concern over breach of confidential citizen data and urged them to seek legal remedies related to their privacy concerns by approaching The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Justice Oka was addressing a gathering of telecom operators, lawyers, policemen, students and government officials as the chief guest during a seminar of TDSAT on ‘ Dispute resolution Mechanism in Telecom, Broadcast and Cyber Sector-Issues, Approach and Way Forward ’on Saturday.

Justice Oka said, “Aadhaar Services Act provides for securing confidentiality of the information supplied by citizens to the authority

Section 33 A provides for penal action rather than penalty when any authority or any person commits breach of various provisions, if your privacy has been breached, then one must approach the TDSAT. There are several grievances regarding the breach of confidentiality including breach of provisions of sharing of data but unfortunately no one is accessing the remedy under the act.I feel that the powers of the authority are very limited,” he said.

Citing an example from his travels, Judge Oka said that when they visited naxalite dominated district of Chandrapur, many citizens approached him and said they were deprived of the Aadhar card due to lack of documents. “I believe that remedy should be provided to those deprived of this card. The amendment should be more citizen centric ,” he said.

In 2004, the jurisdiction of TDSAT was extended to include broadcasting matters. By way of finance Act 2017, the TDSAT jurisdiction was further extended to Airport Tariff and cyber matters. The TDSAT has also been assigned appellate jurisdiction over Aadhaar matters.

“Cybercrime or cyber fraud is one area where we need to educate citizens.Taking clue from what I learnt in Mumbai after I became the chief justice I told my judicial academy to conduct workshops on cyber laws at the district level and decided to not confine the workshop to judicial officers and invited members of the bar, prosecutors, police officers, government officers and bank officials. Citizens must be aware of what machinery is available under IT Act for redressal of their grievances,” he added.

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