A day after the Centre argued that the Aadhaar Act was fair and reasonable, the Supreme Court on Wednesday pointed out that the legislation was “too open ended” and gave excessive power to the Unique Identification Authority of India, NDTV reported.
Justice DY Chandrachud made the observations while talking about provisions in the Aadhaar Act that give the UIDAI the authority to enrol citizens in the programme and also store their fingerprints, iris scans and “any other biological attributes”. “Tomorrow, the UIDAI may even say, ‘Give your blood sample for doing a DNA test,’” the judge said. “Isn’t it excessive delegation if you give the Unique Identification Authority of India the authority to add whatever as biometric and decide mode of collection?”
The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions that challenge the constitutional validity of the government’s Aadhaar programme, including privacy concerns and the provision in the law making it mandatory to link the identity number with various government schemes as well as mobile numbers, PAN and bank accounts.
Arguing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal said it was “possible that blood, urine or saliva samples” may be collected, but the Supreme Court would then examine the matter as “several NGOs who will challenge the same”. Venugopal reiterated that collecting biometric and demographic data did not violate people’s privacy and urged the court to not “review every administrative action” so development is not stalled.
The five-judge bench also questioned the “pervasive use” of fingerprints beyond a specific purpose and expressed concern about the “universalisation of fingerprints”, as mentioned in the petitions that it is hearing, the Hindustan Times reported.