Is Our Privacy Safe Under The Aadhaar Scheme? A Critical Analysis Of Change In The Privacy Law Regime Post Aadhaar Case In India

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Managed by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), aadhaar is a 12 digit unique identification number issued to a resident of India, by the Indian Government. The word ‘Aadhar’ has been derived from a Hindi word which means ‘base’ or ‘foundation’. This card solely can be used for identification purpose. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it has replaced all other cards but can is sufficient to get your works done, as the opening of bank account, issuing a driving license, etc.

Using Aadhaar makes life easier. Be it verifying one’s income tax returns or registering for KYC (Know Your Customer), aadhaar makes the process, easier and swifter. Aadhar was also introduced for the purpose of bringing an end to the use of fake and multiple identity cards, which was prevalent in use in order to commit fraud, etc. Seeing the advantage aadhaar holds the Government of India linked it to over 50 schemes now, including some major ones like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna.

Instance Of Loopholes In Aadhaar

When the Adhar Act, 2016 was introduced, several loopholes were pointed out which turned out to become major issues after former Indian Cricket Team’s captain, M.S. Dhoni’s personal information was leaked in the public domain. Not only this, several aadhaar-number leak cases were registered in the state of Jharkhand and in the state of Punjab as well.

Right To Privacy

In September 2017 the Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgement and the longest judgement of all time in the history of India, declared right to privacy as a fundamental right guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution of India, which states that, ‘no person can be denied of his life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by the law’. The retired judge of Karnataka High Court, K.S. Puttaswamy’s action changed the policy law regime for aadhaar.

Constitutionality Of The Aadhar Act

‘The Aadhaar Act was held to be constitutional to the extent it allowed for Aadhaar number-based authentication for establishing the identity of an individual for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service given by the Central or State Government-funded from the Consolidated Fund of India. The apex court of India struck down the use of individual aadhaar numbers by any private body in compliance with the identity of the individual concerned for any purpose to a contract. This was on the basis that it contradicted the fundamental right to privacy. The Supreme Court also ruled on a number of laws, circulars and directions, which required the mandatory linking of Aadhaar for receiving relevant services.

Impact Of The Judgement

The decision made in this case has great legal and political significance. This judgement also provides an incentive that the government would now look into the data protection regime and digital privacy as a matter of concern. The apex court further held that aadhaar scheme is not unconstitutional and it does not violate the privacy of an individual.  We thus conclude that our privacy is now safe under the aadhaar scheme.

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