[Urbanstudy] Centre’s Aadhaar affidavit in Supreme Court: ‘Welfare of masses trumps privacy of elite’

Vinay Baindur yanivbin at gmail.com
Sat Jun 10 00:39:25 CDT 2017


Centre’s Aadhaar affidavit in Supreme Court: ‘Welfare of masses trumps
privacy of elite’
Rajagopal <http://www.thehindu.com/profile/author/Krishnadas-Rajagopal-236/>
NEW DELHI, JUNE 09, 2017 23:39 IST
UPDATED: JUNE 09, 2017 23:43 IST

A handful of people not affected by Aadhaar Act are questioning it and
consequently, the benefits it gives to poor: Centre

Calling Aadhaar a “transformational homegrown IT project”, the Centre said
on Friday that the fundamental right of identity and various e-governance
initiatives of the government to provide food security, livelihood, jobs
and health to the “teeming masses” cannot be sacrificed at the altar of
right to privacy of an “elite” few who have neither applied for nor want

The affidavit was the government’s response to petitions filed by several
persons, including former NCPCR chairperson and Magsaysay winner Shanta
Sinha, against 17 government notifications allegedly making Aadhaar
mandatory to access welfare schemes and benefits after June 30, 2017.

The Centre, represented by advocate Zoheb Hossain, called the petition a
“classic case” where a handful of individuals not aggrieved by the Aadhaar
Act were questioning its vires and consequently, the benefits it gave to
the poor.

The standard definition of ‘human rights’ as protection of individual
freedom against state intrusion required a radical revision, the government
argued. Human rights went beyond the right to be left alone or the right to
Targets petitioners

“Human rights are based on a far richer view of freedom, which goes beyond
being left alone, and instead pays attention to individuals’ ability to
exercise their rights. The petitioners’ argument fails to consider positive
duties on the state, which reflects the elite nature of the petitioners,
who are more concerned with rights of privacy over, say, right to food, or
right to receive targeted subsidised LPG,” the government said, attacking
the petitioners, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocate
Vipin Nair.

The government said the petitioners did not represent the larger population
of India which had embraced Aadhaar.

“This is demonstrated from the fact that more than 115.15 crore residents
of India, which is equal to 95.10 % of the entire population, have already
enrolled and been allocated Aadhaar number,” the government said.

The Centre contended that the number issued under the Aadhaar Act of 2016
enforced the right to identity and was instrumental in fulfilment of
several fundamental rights of the poor.
No deadline

The government said that though the notifications required people to enrol
for Aadhaar by June 30, 2017 to avail welfare and benefits, this was not a
deadline. They could enrol or register their request for Aadhaar at the
nearest centre before June 30, and such persons could continue to access
benefits through alternative means of identification till they obtained an
Aadhaar number.

Dismissing claims that mass Aadhaar enrolment was a precursor to a
‘surveillance state’, the government said that “by design, the technology
architecture of the UIDAI precludes even the possibility of profiling
individuals for tracking their activities including the purpose for which
they may have used Aadhaar.”

“As a matter of policy and by design, the UIDAI precludes itself from
aggregating information arising from the use of Aadhaar, tracking and
profiling individuals and the system by intent is blind to the purpose for
which Aadhaar may be used at the front end by the resident. Aadhaar is
designed on the basis of principles of minimal data, optimal ignorance, and
federated database, which will prevent UIDAl, government or agency to track
and profile individuals,” the government said.
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