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Centres contradictory stand on WhatsApp and Aadhaar privacy case

Recently, Government’s Flagship Program Aadhaar was questioned with a violation of privacy. While registering for Aadhaar, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) collects all the demographic as well as biometric information such as Fingerprints and Iris Scans. A petition was filed in the court against the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar project primarily against the biometric details of a person which when fall into wrong hands will be an invasion of privacy.

On the other hand, a 5 Judge Constitutional bench led by Justice Dipak Mishra was hearing another petition filed by student led by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi arguing that the data sharing (This data includes photographs, messages shared by the users of these applications) platform such as Facebook and WhatsApp is a violation of the citizens’ right to privacy. Their lawyer, Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for two students also argued that their plea was maintainable as their petition was about the proper regulation should be in place to deal with the issue of data sharing. The petitioner also claimed that the data collected by WhatsApp was used for the commercial purposes.

When this matter came forth the centre before a five judge bench, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) PS Narisimha argued that

service provider or social media platform that shared any personal data which impinged on a person’s Right to Life under Article 21(Right to Life and Liberty) of the Constitution would need to be regulated.

In the hour after hearing of the case, Senior advocate and Counsel for WhatsApp and Facebook Kapil Sibbal argued that the mobile application is not against a regulatory regime and also WhatsApp provides end-end encryption where a third party cannot interfere the privacy and cannot be read even by the company and hence the privacy by the platform is not violated.

Speaking of which, Centres stand on the matter contradicts its stand on the Aadhaar case, which is before the Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and who leads the nine judge constitution bench which is currently examining whether the privacy of a citizen is absolute or conditional.

In Aadhaar case, centre has argued before the Supreme Court that privacy of an individual is not a fundamental right under the constitution. Whereas, their arguments contradicted in the WhatsApp case where they say that a person’s Right to Life under Article 21(Right to Life and Liberty) of the Constitution is absolute and commercial entities threatening that, should be regulated.

Next hearing of the case is on 6th September as decided by the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra and other Judges in the bench comprising Justice A.k Sikri, A.M Khanwilkar, Amitava Roy and M. Shantanagouder.

The next hearing for the Aadhaar Privacy case is on 25th July. Let’s see how the 9 Judge constitutional bench led by Chief Justice react to this double standards by GOI and how Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi defend it.

Supreme Court to hear plea challenging validity of Aadhaar act

Supreme court have decided to hear a plea on 3rd November which challenges the constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act and it will also ponder over the question of privacy it raises surrounding the 12 digit unique identification number.

The case will be presented before a five judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar which hears matters related to Aadhaar including aspect of right to privacy. As all the Aadhaar related cases has been referred to the five judge bench by the top court on 30th October 2017.

The validity of this 12 digit unique identification number was challenged by Karnataka – based Mathew Thomas concerning the privacy issues as the registration process of Aadhaar card requires biometrics of an applicant such as fingerprints, iris scan etc. He has also cited the reports that the biometrics system was not working.

All the Aadhaar related cases has been refferd to the five judge bench by the top court which is to be formed by the end of November.

This decision has been taken by the Centre who has expressed its unwillingness to extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar to various schemes to 31st March and requesting a hearing instead.

Recently, a nine – judge constitutional bench of the top court has passed a historic judgement where it declared Right to Privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Right to Privacy is an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty Guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution

Governments flagship program i.e. Aadhaar is undergoing a lot of inspection and challenges. Several petitions have been filed against the validity of Aadhaar card which claims that it violates the rights of privacy of a person.

Some of the petitioners in the apex court have termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as “illegal and unconstitutional“.

Also one of the counsel said that final hearing regarding the main Aadhaar matter, which is pending is necessary as “the government cannot compel citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or cell phone numbers”.

Read About :

How to link Aadhaar with Bank Account?

How to link Aadhaar with Mobile Number?

SC to deliver final verdict on Aadhaar and Right to Privacy Case Tomorrow, 24th August 2017

The apex court is to deliver the much-awaited judgement whether right to privacy of citizens is a fundamental right under the Constitution.

A bunch of petition was filed against Government’s Unique Identification scheme of Aadhaar, issued to all the citizens of India. This 12-digit number was questioned as it collects all the personal details like demographic and biometric details of the people in order to enrol them in the scheme. Hence, the petitions were filed claiming that it is a breach of privacy, informational self-determination and bodily integrity.

The petitioners also argued that Aadhaar enrolment is the means to a “Totalitarian State” and an open invitation for personal data leakage. To which the Government says that if people can share their personal information with the service providers and private players like Apple, why not with the Government? It also says informational privacy does not exist before compelling State interests and is not an absolute right.

Also it claims that, collection of personal data of the citizens come under that Aadhaar act of 2016 which is the benefits to the poor by providing direct access to public benefits, subsidies, education, food, health and shelter, among other basic rights.

A five – judge constitutional bench, which pondered over the Aadhaar related issues, referred the question of right to privacy to a nine–judge constitutional bench of Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India J.S Khehar.

CJI Justice J.S Khehar is retiring on Saturday and wants to finish off the cases he is heading some of famous one’s being the “Triple Talaq” case, which the supreme court has pronounced to be Unconstitutional yesterday in a historical verdict.

Tomorrow is the final day of the hearing and it would be interesting to see the Judgement Pronounced by the 9 Judge Bench of Supreme Court and the effect it will have on the World’s largest Biometric Identification Program.

To know what has happened in the case, what various parties of the case has said, Please see https://rupeenomics.com/aadhaar-privacy-issue-aug-2-hearing-highlights/

Follow us to know the final verdict on Right to Privacy under Section 21 (Right to Life and Liberty).

Supreme Court reserves date for Verdict On Right To Privacy

After the hearings in the Supreme Court fortnight this Wednesday. The nine – judge Constitutional bench along with the Chief Justice J.S Khehar reserved the verdict stating that whether the right to Privacy should be put in the shoes of Fundamental right or not. Even though the Government has reserved the date for announcing the Verdict, but the main issue is that the nine-judge Constitutional bench is unsure with the dates.

The nine-judge Constitution had been making hearings over three days each week from 18th of July. Endless arguments and talkbacks are going on between the lawyers of the Central Government, states and the petitioners who have signed the petition saying that the collection of the personal details during the Aadhaar enrollment is a threat to privacy.

The center point of attraction of the whole situation is that – the right to privacy is a fundamental right and needs to be concerned about. This right to privacy has punched the clock to all the legal contexts regarding the Aadhaar issues, like the Enrollment number which has now become the base and bottom of the Indian Government welfare programmes, tax-administration network and financial based transactions.

Gopal Subramanium, who is the lawyer in the favor of the petitioners and the right to privacy has urged the Supreme Court to view Privacy is not as a shade of fundamental right but as one that was “inalienable and quintessential to the Construction of the Constitution”. He also added that the concept of privacy is impacted in the right to liberty and dignity. “Privacy is our right and is sought to defined” says Shyam Divan the counsel of one of the petitioners. He also stated that it should include bodily integrity, personal autonomy, personal surveillance and freedom of movement/dissent /thought.

On 26th of July, the Center continued  with the set of the arguments, stood with the act of privacy and conceded for the first time that it is a fundamental right under the constitution tagging with a caution that the right could not be extended on “every aspect” of the privacy. The four states – Punjab, Karnataka, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh along with the Union Territory Puducherry fostered the Constitutionality of the “Right To Privacy”. Later the states Haryana and Kerala also joined the tribe of the movement of “Right to Privacy.”

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology  appointed an expert group headed by the former Supreme Court Judge B.N. Shrikrishna to place a data protection legislation. The UIDAI represented by Tushar Mehta who is the solicitor general also stood up saying that it is our right and needs to be duly protected.

Above all the issues lies the decisions of the nine-judge Constitutional Bench, once they are done with the privacy matter, the remaining issues related to Aadhaar will be heard by the smaller bench of the Supreme Court.

Aadhaar Privacy Case July 26th Hearing. Who said what? Latest Updates.

The constitutional bench of Supreme court, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, assembled today to hear if the right to privacy falls under Indian Constitution Article 21(Right to Life and Liberty). Earlier the date of the hearing was on 25th July, but because of the Swearing in Ceremony of the new President of India, it was postponed to today, July 26, 2017.

On the matter whether privacy is fundamental right under Indian Constitution, 4 Non-BJP ruled states i.e. Karnataka, West Bengal, Puducherry and Punjab also moved to the apex court and seeks to intervene in the hearing.

In the hearing of the case today, the Supreme Court said that

the privacy is not an elitist concept and it will affect the masses

Earlier Attorney General K K Venugopal who is arguing for the government argued that

privacy as a fundamental right was deliberately avoided from Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty). The right under 21 is not absolute.

Advocate Gopal Subramanium, who is appearing for the petitioners, presented his case stating that Article 21 was a residuary right. The basic freedoms were under article 19.

In the last week’s hearing, Centre’s contrary statements came out in open where on one hand during the WhatsApp privacy matter it says that sharing personal details on a social networking site is against the fundamental right of a person. Whereas on the Aadhaar case it says that a citizen does not have a fundamental right to privacy. Apart from Karnataka and West Bengal, two congress led states like Punjab and Puducherry opposed the Union Governments stand on the matter.

A petition was filed against the biometric data collection during the Aadhaar Registration raises privacy threat. A nine judge Constitutional Bench headed by the Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar has been set up to decide upon the issue whether the fundamental rights, described under Part III of the Constitution of India, also include the right to privacy?

Senior Advocate and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal who also represents the four states said that

Privacy cannot be an absolute right. But it is a Fundamental Right. This court needs to strike a balance.

He argued before the nine judge bench that in the light of technological advancement, the court is needed to take a fresh look on the Right to Privacy and its contours in the modern day. The hearing on the case is still underway.

To know more about how privacy changes meaning for Government in different cases read Centres contradictory stand on WhatsApp and Aadhaar privacy case. Know more here

Follow us to hear all the updates about Aadhaar Privacy case. Do you think Right to Privacy is a fundamental right and Aadhaar programme in its current form is in violation of that Right. Let us know in comments.