NEW DELHI, APR 11,
The UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) wants to link Aadhaar not because it sees people as criminals but because it wants to protect them from crime.
This is how the UIDAI countered before a Supreme Court Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra the allegation raised by petitioners, and later taken up by the court, that insistence of Aadhaar for all stigmatises the entire population and creates a feeling among people that all are under the government’s scanner for financial frauds, terrorism and tax evasion.
“We travel by air and all passengers are frisked. This does not mean that all of us are hijackers. It is to done to protect us from hijacking,” Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.But Justice A.K. Sikri countered that frisking is done only on those who “choose to travel”.
“You cannot compare it with the Aadhaar situation where 128 crore people are mandatorily asked to link their mobile SIMs, bank accounts and PAN cards with their Aadhaar cards,” he said.
To this, Mr. Mehta replied that he only wanted to convey to the court that “when a measure is uniformly applied, it does not mean that everyone is guilty… administrative measures does mean individualised suspicion. There is no presumption of guilt on everyone.”
Level of intrusion
Justice Chandrachud questioned the “proportionality” of subjecting the entire population to the “level of intrusion” caused by Aadhaar linkage.
He said such levels of intrusion may be justified in combating terrorism or in a case of national security, but should the public be subjected to such intrusion of their privacy only to prevent any chances of tax evasion.Mr. Mehta said the court was right in thinking why the government should “intrude into the privacy of the entire population merely to weed out a few crores…but when tax evasions amount to ?33, 000 crore, it is a serious problem which Aadhaar linkage may curb”.
Mr. Mehta said the government was conscious of the criticism that the entire population was stigmatised as tax evaders and money launderers, but as a Welfare State, the “gravity of public concern” against corruption, black money and money laundering also had to be taken into consideration.
Mr. Mehta said provisions like Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which mandated the linking of Aadhaar with PAN, was an effort to “bridge the growing gap between the rich and the poor”.
The provision, upheld by the Supreme Court, ensured that the Welfare State had enough resources to offer all an opportunity for economic and social equality.
NEW DELHI, APR 11,