SC notice to government on plea against issuing Aadhaar card

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 14:30 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government on a petition to restrain it from issuing Aadhaar cards (Unique Identification Card) as the bill giving a statutory backing to it was still pending before parliament.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar issued notice after senior counsel Anil B. Divan told the court that implementation of the Aadhaar scheme while the bill giving it statutory backing was still pending in parliament was a matter of great constitutional consequences.

Notice has also been issued to the Planning Commission and Unique Identification Authority.

The Aadhaar scheme was introduced by an executive order in January 2009.

The public interest litigation has urged the apex court to restrain the government from issuing the Aadhaar number by way of implementing its order of Jan 8, 2009, which was tantamount to implementing the provisions of National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010.

The petition by the Karnataka High Court's former judge Justice K.S. Puttaswamy alleges that the government's decision to implement the Aadhaar scheme is an attempt to avoid parliamentary discussion and to circumvent the process of legislation.

The PIL has said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh introduced the National Identity Authority of India Bill in 2010 to make the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) a statutory body.

The bill was rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2011. Yet, the government "persisted on enrolling residents under the Aadhaar scheme through executive action", the PIL said, contending that it was an unconstitutional and arbitrary act.

Counsel Divan argued that the Aadhaar scheme impinges on right to privacy of individuals, as the confidentiality and security of biometric information collected by private agencies is not ensured.

The PIL alleged that through the Aadhaar scheme, even non-citizens are likely to be given benefits such as cash transfer and illegal migrants residing in India are likely to be legitimised, thereby jeopardising the security of the nation. Divan was assisted by counsel Ankit Goel.

The court was told that similar schemes entailing vast expenditure to the exchequer have failed in Britain, the US, Australia, China, Canada and Germany.

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