Aadhaar cards have not been duplicated: Government
The government and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that no Aadhaar card has been duplicated. They claimed that these cards were the least invasive and most successful way of plugging leaks in the country’s system which prevented government benefits from trickling down to the poor.
“Duplicate Aadhaar cards are virtually non-existent,” additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, said in his submissions before a five-judge bench, led by CJI Dipak Misra, which is hearing challenges to the 2016 Aadhaar Act. Mehta claimed that though duplicate pan cards had flooded the system, Aadhaar cards were yet to be duplicated.
Mehta, who was speaking for both the Centre and UIDAI, said the scheme would help the government mop up Rs 30,000 crore in revenue. He dismissed the argument that the scheme was based on the presumption that the entire population was hesitant in paying taxes and indulged in money-laundering.
He cited the example of compulsory frisking at airports in this context. “Everyone is frisked although one might be a threat. Aadhaar does not intend to stigmatise the whole populace as as tax evaders and money launderers.” The bench was, however, sceptical of this line of argument. Justice DY Chandrachud pointed out that the standards of invasion of privacy have to be different in cases involving threat to national security and terrorism, and in cases involving pure financial crime.
“Fiscal crimes. Can they be subject to the same level of proportionality when it comes to infringing rights of citizens? Shouldn’t there be a different threshold for such crimes as opposed to national security and terrorism?” he sought to know. The ASG said he was not saying that the levels of intrusion into the privacy of citizens should be the same in both instances but only that Aadhaar was not based on the presumption that everyone was a criminal. “If you are an honest tax payer you have nothing to worry.”
The Economic Times, New Delhi, 12th April 2018