New Delhi: West Bengal on Tuesday used Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Davos that one who controls data would control the world to assail in the Supreme Court the ambitious Aadhaar scheme, saying the Centre would control personal information of citizens to have a grip over them.
The Mamta Banerjee government was putting forth its arguments before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra which is hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the enabling 2016 law.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the West Bengal government, referred to parts of Modi’s recent speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos.
“Whoever controls data is the most powerful and can shape the world,” Sibal said quoting the prime minister. Using the statement to buttress his submissions against the Aadhaar scheme, Sibal said it meant that “who controls data in India will control India” and the state will use the power like “never before”.
He told the bench, also comprising justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that Aadhaar was nothing but the Right to Information of the State and the question was can it be held as constitutional?
“The answer is ‘no’,” Sibal added.
He said that it was the most important case to be decided by the apex court since independence and it was not the issue as to how much money the government was going to save, rather, the key point was whether citizens can be deprived of their fundamentals rights including the right to have choices.
“Digital world is far more susceptible to manipulations than the physical world,” he said, adding “no legislation can or should allow an individual’s personal data to put at risk”.
Sibal further said that no technology was safe and moreover, no assurance can be given that personal data of citizens would remain safe in digital space.
“Biometric, core biometric and demographic information of an individual is irretrievable once it becomes part of the digital world,” he said, adding that such information, if put in digital domain, were like “genie which is out of the bottle” and can never be put back.
He said that the digital world was a vehicle to benefit “information economy” and the present move of the government in the form of Aadhaar would create an architecture of “an informational polity having “far-reaching consequences impacting most of personal rights which are constitutionally protected”.
Referring to provisions on deactivation of Aadhaar, Sibal said, “what kind of power is this? This is the power to cause civil and digital death (of a person).”
The bench said the constitutionality of a law has to be judged on generality of cases and not on exceptional cases. “How does the court decide what level of risk is proper or not? Should the court get into this or should it be left to the legislature,” the bench asked.
These reports were about “extreme situations” and in a democracy, there has to be an element of choice and Aadhaar should not be imposed, he said, adding there were other ways to weed out leakages in welfare schemes.
Divan said persons, who cannot authenticate identities under the scheme, are often treated as “ghosts” and this cannot be tested on the parameters of fundamental rights.
He said once an individual is enrolled, he is not allowed an opt-out and a person should be given a right to opt out, if he finds out that his biometric data is being misused.
“Many people, who now wants to opt-out had said that there was no genuine informed consent at the time of enrolment or they were not even aware that there is need for consent..,” he said.
Citizens’ data have been made available to private firms for commercial purpose and architectural design of UIDAI was such that it has very little control over this, he said, adding that there is no fiduciary relationship between the individual and the person collecting the data.
The bench took an example of credit card fraud and wanted to know whether this can be possible with Aadhaar. It is possible to hack into these systems, which are not as secure as the central depository, Divan responded.
“Some of these leaks can be plugged but the basic architectural design of UIDAI is faulty and biometric data is easily compromisable,” he said.
Referring to an RTI reply, Divan said that enrolment of 6.23 crore people for Aadhaar was rejected because of duplicates as the UIDAI system works on robabilistic system.
Divan concluded his submissions and said the State may say that “I will choose to recognise you only in this manner, otherwise you cease to exist? The body cannot be used as a marker for every service”.
The apex court had on 15 December last year extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes of all ministries and departments of the Centre, states and Union territories.
Another act of apathy on behalf of the doctors came to light in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh where the doctors denied treatment to a pregnant and she delivered a baby beside the hospital gate. A video on this issue has become viral questioning the infrastructure available in Government hospitals and the indifferent attitude of doctors towards the poor patients. So far no response has been received from the hospital authorities on this issue.
So, there are more chances of HIV being spread from various places to this area. According to the statement of a Councillor in that area, there are as many as 500 cases of HIV positive in that area if proper tests are done. Uttar Pradesh Health Minister ordered an immediate enquiry in this case.
Queen Kangana Ranaut has been working hard on the sets of her new film, Manikarnika. The movie is directed by Krrish, Telugu young director who National Award winning film, Kanche and also historical fiction, Gautamiputra Satakarni last year. He got this offer after successfully completing the movie Gautamiputra Satakarni in less budget and in planned number of days.
Baahubali writer, Vijayendra Prasad wrote the screenplay of the film and it is said to be one of his dreams to write a movie on the great warrior queen.
Karni Sena took the baton of promoting Padmaavat by protesting the release of the movie. They disrupted the shoot, slapped Sanjay Leela Bhanshali and even warned the makers to not release. They made the Governments of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar ban the movie from release.
Went to Supreme Court to stay the movie release and once, it released they burnt the buses and free screens in huge malls. After all that, they recently agreed their mistake and announced that they mistook the intentions of the makers. Now, they have asked Governments of various states to show the film to everyone.
Sarwa Brahmin Mahasabha decided to do the same for Manikarnika. Till today, they haven’t raised any objections, but now they are saying the makers are planning to destroy the image of great Queen by showing her having a relationship with a British officer. They are demanding that the movie should be shown to them first and then only it should release. The makers have made it clear that they took Government permission and submitted the draft early for no objection certificate.
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