The Supreme Court directed the Centre on 24 March 2014 to withdraw the instruction issued by centre for making Aadhaar card mandatory for citizens to benefit government services.
A Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar directed that if there are any instructions that Aadhaar is mandatory, it should be withdrawn immediately. The judgement was given in light of Supreme Court receiving lot of letters which say that Aadhaar card is mandatory in spite of court orders.
The SC Bench also ruled that biometric or any other data should not be shared with any authorities unless the accused gives consent in writing.
The Supreme Court gave ruled this while staying the order of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court on sharing of data collected for issuing Aadhaar card to citizens with CBI for solving a rape case.
In the existing case, the CBI had sought the data base, including biometrics of persons from Goa, so that those could be compared with the ones obtained from the crime scene for the purpose of investigating rape of a minor girl in a school premises in Vasco.
However, this was challenged by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court. The High Court in its interim order of 26 February 2014 asked it to consider sharing biometric data collected from people with CBI in order to help the CBI solve the case. Furthermore, it directed the Director-General, Central Forensic and Scientific Laboratory (CFSL), New Delhi, to appoint an expert to ascertain if its data base has the technological capability for matching the chance fingerprints electronically obtained.
UIDAI challenging the interim order of the High Court filed the petition in Supreme Court. In the petition, it contended that the order would set a bad precedent and will open the floodgates of similar requests by various investigative agencies/ police calling for information, including biometrics of residents, for the purpose of investigation.
It said biometric data cannot be shared without the consent of the resident and as per its current data-sharing policy and guidelines because the right to privacy is one of the basic human rights of an individual. Although Right to Privacy is not enshrined in the Constitution of India, however, it has been expressly recognized as Fundamental Right within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution by the Supreme Court in its various judgement.
Who: Supreme Court
When: 24 March 2014