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Vulnerability of personal data for Aadhaar violation of rights, SC told

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New Delhi, Feb. Feb 7: The Supreme Court on Wednesday was told that vulnerability of citizens’ demographic and biometric data collected under Aadhaar to leaks is itself the violation of their right to privacy.

“Vulnerability (of personal data collected under Aadhaar to leaks) is violation of rights,” senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Appearing for West Bengal government, Sibal said that the functioning of the digital world was vulnerable to the sabotage and pointed out no other country in the world has such a centralised demographic and biometric data of its citizens.

Telling the court that there was “no system of the world that can’t be hacked”, he said if one goes to railway booking counter and feeds Aadhaar number, then it would reveal all journeys they had undertaken by trains in the past.

Pointing out that same was the case with air journeys, Sibal asked: “Why should the state know where I am going and what I am doing?”

At this, Justice A.K. Sikri recounted how he once took his wife for a Chinese dinner and asked for a rice dish they had eaten during their last visit five months back but whose name they ere not able to recollect. After a short while, the waiter returned with the print-out of their five month old bill.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud described the entire episode as “scary”.

A statute, Sibal said, has to be “consistent with the provisions of the constitution” and citing Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 asserted that the provision, it was a person’s choice to produce Aadhaar number to establish their identity.

When Justice Ashok Bhushan said that under the said provision, Aadhaar can be used to establish the identity of the persons under other statutes, Sibal said that any interpretation other than that it was voluntary to use Aadhaar for establishing one’s identity would be “horrendous”.

As Justice Bhushan asked: “What is wrong with one nation, one identity? We are all Indians”, Sibal said: “Yes we are all Indians. Passionately Indian. But we are more than our Aadhaars.”

Further dwelling on his arguments, Sibal said, “Digital world knows more about you, than you know about yourself.”

He told the court that there is an app called “moodpanda which rates and tracks your mood”and in a lighter vein told the bench “We would love to use it to see Your Lordships’ mood in the Aadhaar case.”

“Unlike smart cards which require several pieces of sophisticated equipment such as a card skimmer and card printer in addition to sophisticated software and advanced technical knowledge, most biometric readers in India today can be defeated by a child with no technical knowledge using Fevicol and wax,” he claimed.

Besides West Bengal government, the former Karnataka High Court judge K.S. Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon and others have assailed the constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act on the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy.

Hearing will continue on Thursday.

IANS

India

HC notice on woman’s plea seeking fresh passport for son stranded abroad for 8 yrs

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Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre”s reply on a woman”s plea seeking directions to the government to provide a passport to her son, who is stuck abroad for the last eight years as he does not have a valid travel document.

Justice Navin Chawla issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking its stand on the plea which claims that her son”s passport was damaged when he was in Italy and had applied for a duplicate one in 2012 which has not been issued to him.

He moved to Paris for work as without a valid passport he was finding it tough to get work in Italy, her plea has said.

The Indian consulate in Italy had refused to issue him a passport as a dowry case was pending him here, she has said in her plea.

The woman has said that she, her husband and her son were falsely implicated in a dowry case by her then daughter-in-law in 2009.

Her husband passed away during the pendency of the case and her son was declared a proclaimed offender as he could not come back to India due to lack of a valid passport, the petition has claimed.

She was acquitted in the case in 2016 and meanwhile, her ex-daughter-in-law obtained a divorce in 2011 and got married again, the plea said.

It has also claimed that the divorce was granted by way of an ex-parte order as her son could not come to India to defend himself.

The high court has listed the matter for further hearing on December 7. PTI HMP SKV SA

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Sensing MP bypolls’ defeat, BJP indulging in horse-trading: Cong

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A day after one of its MLAs in Madhya Pradesh resigned from the Assembly to join the BJP, the Congress on Monday cried foul and alleged that the BJP was “indulging in horse-trading” after sensing its impending defeat in the November 3 bypolls.

“The BJP knows that they are going to lose the bypolls; so again, doing the same thing to remain in power in Madhya Pradesh. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has already said that they are making the democracy hallow and this is the latest example,” Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh told a press conference here.

Congress MLA Rahul Lodhi from Damoh on Sunday resigned from the Assembly and joined the BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal.

Earlier this year, 22 Congress MLAs had resigned from the Assembly and joined the BJP under the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia, which led to the collapse of the then Kamal Nath-led Congress government.

Three more Congress MLAs later resigned from the Assembly. Now, the latest blow to the Congress has come with the resignation of Rahul Lodhi.

The 28 Assembly segments in Madhya Pradesh will see by-elections on November 3.

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SC stays HC order to parties to go virtual for MP bypolls

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The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Madhya Pradesh High Court order to political parties to campaign virtually for the November 3 Assembly bypolls in the state, but pulled up the parties for creating a situation that compelled the HC to act.

The top court stayed the High Court order, but noted that the situation would not have arisen if health protocols were followed in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.

Staying the High Court order, the bench also asked the Election Commission of India to take an appropriate decision in connection with political rallies as per the law in the backdrop of COVID-19 guidelines.

The bench noted that the High Court would not have interfered if the political parties had done their job better. “Take charge, ensure you discharge your duties in a manner that are in the best interest of everyone,” noted the bench.

The top court’s order came during the hearing on pleas by the Election Commission and Madhya Pradesh Energy Minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar against the High Court order of October 20.

The bench asked Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tomar, to make a representation to the Election Commission for the loss of time in electioneering due to the High Court order.

The poll panel, represented by Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, assailed the High Court order and citing Article 329 of the Constitution said that the conduct and management of elections was overseen by it and there was an express bar on judicial interference in the middle of the electoral process.

Tomar, a BJP candidate for Gwalior Assembly seat bypoll in Madhya Pradesh, pleaded that the High Court committed an error as it overlooked that the Election Commission under Article 324 had issued COVID-19 guidelines in September-end to permit physical public gatherings albeit with restrictions.

The bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in the state are slated for November 3. The plea said that as per the guidelines and the state government SOPs, political gatherings of over 100 people with safety measures could be allowed.

Source: IANS

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