Supreme Court issues notice to Centre and UIDAI in PIL challenging Aadhaar Ordinance [Read Petition]

Supreme Court issues notice to Centre and UIDAI in PIL challenging Aadhaar Ordinance [Read Petition]

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in a PIL filed challenging the validity of the 2019 Aadhaar Ordinance.

In a hearing that lasted less than a minute, the Bench of Justices SA Bobde and BR Gavai issued notice in the plea.

Senior counsel Shyam Divan appeared for the petitioners.

A petition was filed challenging the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 [Aadhaar Ordinance] and the Aadhaar (Pricing of Aadhaar Authentication Services) Regulations, 2019.

Filed by retired Indian Army Officers SG Vombatkare and Human Rights activist Bezwada Wilson, the petition was drawn by advocate Prasanna S and filed through advocate Vipin Nair.

The petitioners have contended that the Aadhaar Ordinance creates a backdoor to permit private parties to access the Aadhaar ecosystem, thus enabling State and private surveillance of citizens.

The regulations permit the commercial exploitation of personal and sensitive information which has been collected and stored for State purposes only.

The petitioner has placed reliance on the 2017 Supreme Court judgment in Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India, wherein the Court held that the Aadhaar project did not enable mass surveillance. However, the Court struck down certain provisions of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 including Section 57, which permitted private parties to use Aadhaar for authentication.

The current Ordinance and Regulations is an attempt to re-legislate the Aadhaar Act, 2016 which enabled the commercial exploitation of personal information, the petitioners contended.

In March this year, the Union Cabinet had promulgated the Aadhaar Ordinance, 2019 after the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 failed to get passed during the Budget Session of Parliament.

The Centre took the Ordinance route after the last session of the Lok Sabha ended on February 13. With the imminent dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Amendment Bill introduced last year had lapsed.

Read Petition

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