1. Supreme Court verdict on Right to Privacy may hit Modi’s corruption battle

Supreme Court verdict on Right to Privacy may hit Modi’s corruption battle

India’s top court has ruled citizens have a fundamental right to privacy, a potential setback to the government’s plan of using its vast biometric identification program in everything from mobile connections to income-tax filings.

By: | Published: August 24, 2017 2:17 PM
Supreme Court, India, Narendra Modi, J S khehar, Aadhaar, Aadhaar Program India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Reuters)

India’s top court has ruled citizens have a fundamental right to privacy, a potential setback to the government’s plan of using its vast biometric identification program in everything from mobile connections to income-tax filings. In an unanimous verdict nine judges of the Supreme Court ruled that privacy was a part of the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed under the country’s constitution.“Right to privacy is an intrinsic part of right to life,” Chief Justice J.S. Khehar said while reading out the verdict.The ruling by a rare nine-judge bench came after a referral from a smaller panel hearing a challenge to India’s vast biometric identity program, Aadhaar, which has signed up more than one billion Indians. Aadhaar, which means “foundation” in Hindi, is a 12-digit number provided to citizens after collecting their biometric information — finger prints and an iris scan — along with demographic details and a mobile phone number.

It was originally designed to stop the pilfering by middlemen of government subsidies for the poor, by underpinning a citizen’s I.D. with biometric data, and to save money as the government doles out social security benefits. The Aadhaar program has gradually become a key component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to make India a cashless society. Modi’s government has attempted to make Aadhaar compulsory for a number of government services ranging from school meals for students to paying taxes, raising concerns about privacy and data theft. The legal validity of a mandatory use of the Aadhaar program will now be scrutinized by a smaller bench in light of the verdict on Thursday.

In an unanimous verdict nine judges of the Supreme Court ruled that privacy was a part of the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed under the country’s constitution.“Right to privacy is an intrinsic part of right to life,” Chief Justice J.S. Khehar said while reading out the verdict.The ruling by a rare nine-judge bench came after a referral from a smaller panel hearing a challenge to India’s vast biometric identity program, Aadhaar, which has signed up more than one billion Indians. Aadhaar, which means “foundation” in Hindi, is a 12-digit number provided to citizens after collecting their biometric information — finger prints and an iris scan — along with demographic details and a mobile phone number.

It was originally designed to stop the pilfering by middlemen of government subsidies for the poor, by underpinning a citizen’s I.D. with biometric data, and to save money as the government doles out social security benefits. The Aadhaar program has gradually become a key component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to make India a cashless society. Modi’s government has attempted to make Aadhaar compulsory for a number of government services ranging from school meals for students to paying taxes, raising concerns about privacy and data theft. The legal validity of a mandatory use of the Aadhaar program will now be scrutinized by a smaller bench in light of the verdict on Thursday.

  1. S
    srikanth
    Aug 24, 2017 at 4:08 pm
    ur aadhaar card is not going to help in fighting corruption. Let Mr. Modi start with politicians. Every politician is represented by a top notch lawyer in the courts. Where does he get the money to pay them? In every department, people know who takes money and who is honest. the problem in this country is not the lack of laws but the lack of will in implementing them. The drafting of laws should be entrusted to a ins ution - which is separate and isolated from the influence of the legislature and executive. How can we allow the drafting of laws on politicians the majority of whom are fighting cases of corruption?
    Reply
    1. S
      Subrahmanyma
      Aug 24, 2017 at 3:22 pm
      Each and every thing can not be taken as negative. The said judgement is not in support of corruption in India
      Reply
      1. Vivek Nair
        Aug 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm
        In a country where even the poor women bath in the open, where is the issue of privacy. Privacy is a first world issue. Only people who will benefit from this decision is the rich. They can use this privilege to hide their ill gotten wealth. I for one, totally disagree with the SC on this decision.
        Reply
        1. R
          Reader
          Aug 24, 2017 at 3:09 pm
          pasted content twice to make article look longer. well done!
          Reply

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