Aadhaar can cause the civil death of an individual: petitioners tell SC

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Aadhaar can cause the civil death of an individual: petitioners tell SC

"Senior Supreme Court lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, said that Aadhaar will cause the death of civil rights of the citizens and transform a people's Constitution into a State's Constitution". This record will enable the State to profile citizens, track their movements, assess their habits and silently influence their behaviour.

Divan said the issues surrounding Aadhaar should be tested against constitutional principles. "Where every basic facility is linked to Aadhaar and one can not live in society without an Aadhaar number, the switching off of Aadhaar completely destroys the individual", Divan said. State could ask for the biometric identification of teachers and students for the implementation of Right to Education Act or for mid-day meal scheme for which hundreds of crores of rupees are spent.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday started the hearing of a petition challenging the validity of the Aadhaar system.

Divan, for his part, contended that through a succession of "marketing stratagems" and by employing "smoke and mirrors", the government has rolled out a "little understood" programme that seeks to "tether every resident of India to an electronic leash".

The matter related to the constitutional validity of Aadhaar is heard by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

- Justice Chandrachud asked that why the state can not argue that a biometric identification was needed to plug leakages in social welfare schemes so that the benefit or allowance reaches to the person designated for it. "There are very few precedents to guide us. Their biometrics are not registered". "Cases from other countries favour us", he added. As the Aadhaar platform extends to private corporations, the degree of tracking and extent of profiling will exponentially increase.

The counsel said that while the Constitution balanced the rights of individuals against the State's interests, Aadhaar completely upsets it and skews the relationship between citizen and State, enabling the government to totally dominate the individual.

"The Constitution is not a charter of servitude".

The top court had on December 15 a year ago extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes of all ministries and departments of the Centre, states and union territories.

The constitution benches would hear the contentious issue relating to the ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala's Sabarimala temple and also resume the hearing on a legal query on whether a Parsi woman would lose her religious identity if she married a man from a different religion.

Among these challenges are-making Aadhaar mandatory for social welfare benefits, infringement of right to privacy, making Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs) as well as for obtaining and retaining permanent account number (PAN).

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