Aadhaar hearing: Providing proof of identity a ‘regulatory procedure’, nothing undignified about it, UIDAI tells SC

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New Delhi | Published: April 19, 2018 1:01 PM

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) on Wednesday said in the Supreme court that there was no indignity associated with furnishing proof of identity to any institution or person and called it a “regulatory procedure.”

UIDAI informs SC that biometric data of users were safe. (Image: Reuters)

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) on Wednesday said in the Supreme court that there was no indignity associated with furnishing proof of identity to any institution or person and called it a “regulatory procedure.”

Appearing for UIDAI, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi informed the apex court: “In a relational world, if one wants to relate with an individual or institution, he or she can’t choose how they will identify themselves.”

Dwivedi was responding to a query of the five-judge constitutional bench of the top court on the need to give people a choice of identity. He referred to instances of offices having biometric-based attendance. Dwivedi also said that the Aadhaar card was also one of the optional documents sought from those who wanted to file a writ petition in the apex court. “There is no indignity…these are regulatory procedures,” he said.

Advocating that dignity was at the core of India’s fundamental rights, the counsel said, “Dignity, however, cannot be truncated — dignity for one class, who can afford, and another, who cannot.”

The counsel also stated that notifications issued by the governments at the Centre and the states under section 7 of the Act, requires Aadhaar card for providing subsidies etc. He also stated that the move was part of efforts to improve the poor and underprivileged people and hence was part of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. He also added on the maintenance of “fair balance” between the right to privacy and right to life.

On the issuance of proximity card to lawyers for entering the top court, Dwivedi said, “I don’t think my fundamental rights are breached if I’m asked for proximity card…Nobody can say I will not identify, but I want to relate…If I’m asked to keep to the left on a road, it’s only a regulation.”

The prosecutor further added, “(If) you want to associate with an institution, you want some benefits, then you cannot say I will only give my choice of identity,” he said, while agreeing with the court’s suggestion that an identity must be relatable to its purpose. “There has to be a nexus and it cannot be excessive.”

Citing the advantages of having Aadhar card, he said, it is “universal and portable.” Dwivedi also informed the constitution bench that the biometrics data are safe.

The top court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

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