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Individual privacy protected

Individual privacy protected
Highlights

In a historical verdict, the Supreme Court of India has struck down certain provisions of the Indias unique identity card, bringing more clarity on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar on Wednesday

In a historical verdict, the Supreme Court of India has struck down certain provisions of the India’s unique identity card, bringing more clarity on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar on Wednesday.

This judgement comes in the wake of several questions and doubts being raised about the privacy of individual data and apprehensions of its widespread misuse. However, a five-judge bench of the apex court made it clear that many of the Aadhar services where it was supposed to be linked with other services which involved private parties were not mandatory.

Though the Supreme Court said that it was mandatory to link Aadhaar with PAN card and a must for filing income tax returns, and also necessary while availing government welfare schemes and subsidies, it excluded some other conditions put forth by the government in the Aadhaar Act. The court said the Aadhaar was not necessary for school admissions, obtaining new SIM cards, opening bank accounts and appearing for CBSE, NET and UGC examinations, allaying fears of misuse of data by private parties.

It also made it clear that the government seeking biometric data of a citizen does not amount to violation of individual privacy. While the Opposition Congress, which was the brain behind this unique identity card concept, welcomed the decision and termed it a ‘blow’ to the BJP, the ruling party said the judgement was good and aimed at empowering democracy and the marginalised.

Ironically, while Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment for the Congress, he also flayed the BJP by telling that it was a tool of oppression for the ruling party. More reactions are pouring in on the significant decree of the Supreme Court, while the public, by and large, seem to be a relieved lot as the apex court brought some clarity on the issue.

By the very look of it, there are all the reasons for us to rejoice as private companies cannot now demand Aadhaar data of an individual nor it is mandatory to possess one. So, there is no question of breach of privacy and one has a sense of absolute security. No one will be denied benefits under various social welfare schemes implemented by the government because their Aadhaar card cannot be authenticated. The court, while delivering its judgement, said ‘as of today, we do not find anything in Aadhaar Act which violates right to privacy of individual citizen.’

Though the judgement comes as a great relief for the citizens, who otherwise looked at the Act with distrust, there is still much more to do to protect the individual privacy, which as per the Supreme Court, is a fundamental right.

However, advancement of technology, cyber and legal security challenges and vulnerability of the official machinery should not be misused. The data, which are already in the possession of private stakeholders, should be retrieved and it should be made sure that individual privacy must be protected. Let’s hope that the powers that be and the entire administration further safeguard the individual privacy.

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