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Biometric data in hubs were destroyed after Aadhaar Act: Gujarat govt tells SC

SRDH was started at the state level as a repository of UIDAI data of residents, along with their demographic data and photographs.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2018 23:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aadhaar,Biometric data hub,Gujarat
A woman goes through the process of finger scanning for the Unique Identification (UID) database system, also known as Aadhaar, at a registration centre in New Delhi, India, January 17, 2018. (Reuters)

The Supreme Court was told on Thursday that all biometric details stored in the State Resident Data Hubs (SRDH) have been destroyed after the Aadhaar Act came into force in 2016.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, counsel for Gujarat government, denied allegations from the petitioners that data collected by the SRDH prior to the enactment of the law was still being maintained and shared with private persons by states. He made the submission before a constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, which is hearing challenge to the Aadhaar law.

Dwivedi said: “The Aadhaar Act does not contemplate storage of biometric information at the state-level. Details are now stored only in the Central Identities Data Registry (CIDR).”

He denied there was leakage of data even prior to the Aadhaar law’s enactment. “These state hubs were created under an agreement between the state and UIDAI. There was no breach of data then too,” Dwivedi clarified.

“States need not have the biometric data. They can now identify beneficiaries through the CIDR,” Dwivedi told HT.

SRDH was started at the state level as a repository of UIDAI data of residents, along with their demographic data and photographs. It was meant to enable various departments to verify and weed out erroneous and fictitious data from their records.

Lawyers for the petitioners, however, said Dwivedi’s statement was not enough to satisfy the concerns raised by them. “State hubs have not been discontinued. They continue to have demographic data of citizens and this makes it possible to build a 360 degree profile of individuals living in a state, denying them to compartmentalize their lives,” a lawyer told HT on the condition of anonymity.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, requested the court to extend the March 31 deadline given in the court’s interim order of December 15, 2017 for mandatory linkage of bank accounts, mobile phones and other services. He said the extension should be given in view of the pendency of the case. The court is likely to look into his prayer on March 6 when it resumes the hearing.

Earlier, during the day, Subramanium said that after the Aadhaar law came into force, it was required from the government and other civil authorities to seek variation of the top court’s order that restrained the government from denying benefits for want of the unique identity number. He felt the government should have approached the court to validate its circulars and notifications mandating Aadhaar for various schemes and services.

The senior counsel asked the court to consider compensating those who have suffered and were denied benefits belcause they were not Aadhar-card holders. “Instances of starvation deaths must be compensated,” he said.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 23:44 IST