Aadhar and Privacy

In the Indian Constitution, Article 21 preserves an individual’s right to privacy along with the human life’s dignity. The right to dignity is considered as a significant part of an individual’s right to life.

” In my considered opinion, right to privacy of any individual is essentially a natural right, which inheres in every human being by birth. Such right remains with the human beings till he/she breathes last. It is indeed inseparable and inalienable from human being. In other words, it is born with the human being and extinguish with the human being.”

– Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre

The most common question that we hear in every day is ‘May I see your ID?’, many of our regular activities depend upon the IDs like while cash withdrawal from an ATM, joining the line of fast track at the airport, at the entry of workplace etc. If the wrong ID is shown then in many places one is denied secure access to website, attention of emergency medication and many more facilities. In Hindi, the word ‘Aadhar’ refers to ‘the foundation base’. An Aadhar is basically a random number of unique identification containing 12 digits issued in India to all its citizens irrespective of the gender and age. The agency that issues and manages the Aadhar Card is Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In order to obtain Aadhar number, an individual who is an Indian resident requires enrollment. Primarily, Aadhar was initiated for the direct subsidies transfer into the bank account of citizens. However, the scope of Aadhar has been widened today. A case of privacy infringement was filed, the reason being that in order to acquire the Aadhar cards, the citizens were asked for their Biometrics by the Indian government. It was made compulsory for all the Indian citizens to have Aadhar card under the Aadhar scheme for the smooth functioning of the operations such as tax payment, bank accounts opening etc. A number of security benefits are provided to the weaker sections by the government, thus to avail such benefits it is necessary for all the citizens to be Aadhar card holders. However, the enrollment is not mandatory and hence it does not violate the any privacy rights as the biometrics are also provided voluntarily by the citizens. Certain sections of the society are unduly influenced secretly or directly by the government, thus the Act of Aadhar is a form of Doctrine of Colourable Legislation. In the case of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy vs. Union of India and ors 26, a petition was filed by the retired justice in which he challenged the Aadhar Scheme’s constitutional validity asserting that as the Aadhar is made compulsory, there is instance of violation of right to privacy of citizen. As an outcome, the individuals who are unwilling to register are not left with any option. Besides, in India there is lack of laws related to data protection which further increases the chances of leak of personal information of data if not handled with care. It was held that Privacy is a constitutionally protected right which not only emerges from the guarantee of life and personal liberty in Art. 21 of the Constitution, but also arises in varying contexts from the other facets of freedom and dignity recognized and guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights contained in Part III of the Indian Constitution.

Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right. The right protects an individual’s internal sphere by the State as well as the Non- State’s interference and autonomous choices in life are allowed by the individual. The Right to Life and Personal Liberty derives the Right to Privacy. An individual can enter a citizen’s house without knocking at its door, this is easily made possible by technology. The same may be possible in case of state or non states. The privacy of the home must preserve all the essential aspects of dignity such as marriage, family, sexual orientation. The Article 21 of the Indian Constitution extends to the right to privacy and the Right to live with dignity.