NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday barred the government from making the Aadhaar card mandatory for availing of government welfare scheme and directed it not to share personal biometric data collected for enrollment under the scheme with any authority.
A Constitution bench of the SC will decide the larger question of whether collecting biometric data for preparing the Aadhaar cards infringes on an individual’s privacy and if right to privacy was a fundamental right.
“No personal information of Aadhaar card shall be shared by any authority,” a bench headed by Justice J
Chelameswar said and took on record Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s statement to this effect. “UIDAI/Aadhaar will not be used for any other purpose except PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution,” the bench said and made it clear that even for availing of these facilities the card won’t be mandatory. The bench directed that the information received by UIDAI shall not be used for any other purpose, except in criminal investigation and that too with the permission of the court.
Allowing the Centre’s plea, the SC framed questions, including whether right to privacy is a fundamental right, to be decided by the Constitution bench. “If yes, then what would be the contours of the right to privacy,” the bench said while referring the matter to CJI H L Dattu for setting up the larger bench.
During the hearing, senior lawyer Shyam Divan argued that the exercise of getting enrolled in the Aadhaar scheme is done without the presence of any government officer, which is itself questionable. On this, the AG rebutted the plea for suspension of enrollments and said the balance of probabilities have shifted in favour of the government since 90 per cent of the adult population had already been enrolled.