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Govt committed to privacy on Aadhaar, says Arun Jaitley

The finance minister reiterated that the use of Aadhaar would continue for the key objective of rationalisation of subsidies.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2018 23:45 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aadhaar,privacy on Aadhaar,Aadhaar data breach
Employees mark their attendance through Aadhaar-based system in the Planning Commission.(HT FIle Photo)

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that it was too late to say that privacy was not a fundamental law and assured Parliament that the Narendra Modi government was committed to protecting the privacy of citizens while implementing the Aadhaar programme.

“We are committed to the privacy of Aadhaar. I personally believe it is too late to say privacy is not a fundamental law,” Jaitley said in Lok Sabha in his reply during the debate on the Union Budget.

Jaitley’s comments come amid widespread concern over the potential breach of biometric data and personal information linked to the Aadhaar unique identity scheme at a time when the government is expanding its use beyond welfare schemes.

Various petitions against the Aadhaar scheme are being heard by a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

Jaitley argued that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which had earlier initiated the Aadhaar process, had proceeded on it without any legal backing on privacy.

“You brought the Aadhaar without support of law. Your law was silent on the purpose of Aadhaar and privacy,” Jaitley said, directing his attention towards members of the Congress present in the House.

The finance minister reiterated that the use of Aadhaar would continue for the key objective of rationalisation of subsidies.

Till March 2017, the government has saved Rs 49,000 crore in subsidies after identifying the right beneficiaries and weeding out bogus recipients, according to government data.

“Every year, we used to hear subsidy must be rationalised and it should only be for the poor. During the UPA government, we heard about saving resources and targeting subsidies. But you started challenging such a good idea after giving birth to it,” Jaitley said.

He added that it was only the current government that saw the full potential of the scheme.

The government has called for the linking of Aadhaar for a range of different services — provident fund to income tax, mobile phones to bank accounts — along with social welfare programmes.

First Published: Feb 08, 2018 23:44 IST