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Why privacy clause in Aadhaar law if it’s not fundamental right: SC grills UIDAI

The Supreme Court said one whole chapter in the Aadhaar Act deals with privacy interest, and wanted to know if it was not another legitimate recognition of privacy being a fundamental right.

india Updated: Jul 28, 2017 00:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aadhaar,Privacy,fundamental right
The Supreme Court expressed concern over Aadhaar, which the government says is a tool to provide social welfare measures to the millions of poor in the country without any leakages.(PTI File Photo / Representational)

The nine-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court hearing the privacy case asked the UIDAI on Thursday to explain how a chapter was dedicated to privacy in the Aadhaar law if it was not a fundamental right.

Justice RF Nariman, a member of the bench led by Chief Justice JS Khehar, posed the question to additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta who said he would place the authority’s stand before the court on August 1, the next date of hearing in the matter.

“A one whole chapter in the Aadhaar Act deals with privacy interest. Is this not another legitimate recognition of it (privacy) being a fundamental right?” Justice Nariman inquired from Mehta.

On his part, the law officer submitted that privacy and confidentiality were non-negotiable. “There is no question of a compromise here,” Mehta assured, saying he would place his arguments on the next date.

During the day-long hearing, the bench expressed concern over Aadhaar, which the government says is a tool to provide social welfare measures to the millions of poor in the country without any leakages.

Justice DY Chandrachud reminded Attorney General KK Venugopal that the petitioners challenging Aadhaar have not questioned the objective but raised fear of data breach.

“Nobody claims it is not a social justice welfare scheme. What they are worried about is that whether information given to the agencies will be safe and for that do you have a robust law. And if you don’t then you must have one,” Justice Chandrachud told the law officer.

The judge’s remark came as Venugopal reiterated the government stand that privacy was multifaceted and every facet of it cannot be considered a fundamental right.

“Informational privacy cannot be claimed in a situation where fundamental right of others will be defeated,” he told the bench. While the Centre concluded its arguments on the privacy issue, the Maharashtra government took off from where the attorney general left.

It submitted that privacy is not a fundamental right and the Supreme Court should refrain from injecting it into the constitution.

Senior advocate A Sundaram, representing the Maharashtra government, told the court that “Privacy can mean a lot of things. Moreover, right to privacy was considered by the Constitution makers but they decided to drop it as a fundamental right.”

First Published: Jul 28, 2017 00:05 IST