“The system in India is the most sophisticated that I have seen and it should be good for the world if this became widely adopted” remarks by Paul Romer, a chief economist of the world bank regarding the Aahaar program of India. Later World Development Report 2016 also mentioned that,”a digital identification system such as India’s Aadhaar, by overcoming complex information problem, helps the government to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged group”. This gives us a clear insight of the scheme started by the government of the India.
Aadhaar is one of the technological successes of India and is an initiative unparallel in scope anywhere else in the world. India is largest leading the way in the implementation of national identification program linked to biometric data. This data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDIA), a statutory authority established last year by Government of India under the ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, under the provisions of Aadhaar act 2016. No doubt as of now this system provided more than 113 crore residents of India an Aadhaar card which is roughly 88.8% of the projected population, is facing a legal battle to make it mandatory for Indian citizens in order to ensure efficient delivery of subsidies , benefits and services under Aadhaar act 2016.
On August 2015, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court held in ‘K.S. Puttaswamy case’ that the production of an Aadhaar card would not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen. Also bench said that having regard to importance of the matter, it is desirable that the matter be heard at the earliest.
While there is doubt that the purpose behind making Aadhaar mandatory is to simplification of delivery process ranging of service to the citizen as well as distribution of benefits and subsidies which saved more than 36 crore in two years as per Governments statistics, to bring transparency and efficiency, receipt of entitlements in a convenient and seamless manner, obviating the need to produce multiple document to prove ones identity. In general it is meant to streamline bureaucratic process for better governances. It is off course a mass surveillance technique as well, unlike targeted surveillance is good thing and essential for national security and public order and would be best remedy to combat a rising global phenomena of terrorism. Apart from these, few well renowned political scholars, strategic analysts and foreign policy composers suggesting that Government should integrate the project into its neighborhood foreign policy agenda thereby countering Chinese companies who actually supplying digital network to them.
One is the Aadhaar act is palpably arbitrary and illegal in as much as it creates an artificial impermissible classification between those entitled person who have parted with biometric and those entitled persons who have not parted with biometrics.
What needs to be done is that instead of arguing the privacy is not a fundamental right Government should assure the citizens that it has the technique and system to protect the data collected and will do everything possible to prevent unauthorized disclosure of or access of such data. This century comes with certain risks; therefore Government should recognize both the need for Aadhaar and the need to stringent rules concerning access to and security of citizens’ biometric data in order to preserve privacy.
(The author is a student of Jamia Millia Islamia University New Delhi)