Indians are much more than their Aadhaar numbers, and the government cannot reduce them to just one identity based on the scheme, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, The Hindu reported.
Sibal is one of the advocates representing the petitioners who challenged the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar programme in the top court. A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, is hearing the case. The petitions primarily question the validity of Aadhaar based on privacy concerns.
“Our identity cannot be confined to mere Aadhaar numbers; we are all much more,” Sibal argued, according to Live Law. He said a citizen may face the risk of being dubbed an “anti-national” if he or she is not enrolled in the Aadhaar scheme.
He also argued that Aadhaar would not allow any other government-approved document to establish a person’s identity. “I am not going to make a political argument,” Sibal said. “I am going to make legal arguments against this one-nation-one-identity move.”
Justice Ashok Bhushan, one of the judges on the bench, questioned what was wrong with the concept of “one identity for one nation”, saying, “after all, we are all Indians”.
He also noted that the Aadhaar Act specifies that the unique identity number is not meant only for access to social benefits. The judge made this point as the petitioners have challenged the Centre’s move to link Aadhaar to mobile phones, bank accounts and Permanent Account Numbers. Sibal argued that this gives the government “blanket power”.
Sibal also argued against a provision in the Aadhaar Act that allows entities other than the government to seek Aadhaar details. “It is gravely unconstitutional to entitle even private entities to mandate Aadhaar,” he said, according to Live Law.