It is victory of a common citizen, says civil society on SC’s privacy ruling
Activists fighting against the government collecting people’s biometric details for the 12-digit Aadhaar identification number on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court judgment that called privacy a fundamental right.
Shanta Singh, Aruna Roy and Major General SG Vombatkere are among the four people on whose petitions the top court pronounced its privacy verdict. Retired Karnataka high court judge KS Puttaswamy was the fourth petitioner.
They argued that Aadhaar violated a person’s right to privacy guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.
They hailed the court order as “historic” and expect it to deliver a favourable verdict on the efficacy of the Aadhaar law, which a three-member bench will hear.
“I hope that the order will free the poor and deprived from the clutches of Aadhaar and ensure that they get their entitlements under different government schemes,” Singh said, calling the judgment pro-poor.
According to the activists, a large number of poor people in India were excluded from welfare schemes because of deficiencies in the Aadhaar law and cited specific instances in the top court.
“We have many case studies in Rajasthan where the poor had been denied their monthly quota of ration as Aadhaar authentication failed … machines failed to read weak finger impressions,” said Roy, a Magsaysay awardee and former member of the National Advisory Council.
“The government used Aadhaar to wrongly exclude many from the beneficiary list. And we have evidence for that.”
Usha Ramanathan, an Aadhaar critic, was happy that the unique identification hearing was back on track and will conclude within the next few months.
The court set up a three-member bench to validate the Aadhaar law. The first petition against Aadhaar was filed in 2012.
Another anti-Aadhaar campaigner, Reetika Khera, said the order was a victory for an ordinary Indian who wants his or her rights to be protected from an intrusive government.
“It is a historic and watershed moment in the fight for the deprived sections,” said the development economist at IIT, Delhi. And she added that the next fight is to ensure the court strikes down the Aadhaar law.
The civil society members hailed the court’s views on gay rights and intrusion in the name of beef ban.