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Indian Supreme Court to review Aadhaar biometric system ruling

Critics of the courts latest approval of Aadhaar call the database unconstitutional


India’s Supreme Court is currently reviewing its recent ruling in favor of Aadhaar, writes The Hindu. Questioning the constitutionality of the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in favor of Aadhaar, seven petitioners seek a review of the most recent verdict. This latest development follows a series of legal challenges against India’s national biometric database and will decide its legality under the constitution.

While the majority of judges held that Aadhaar not only adheres to the constitution, they also added in their opinion that the biometric database is an ‘unparalleled’ and secure form of identity proof. Furthermore, the opinion described the privacy restrictions of Aadhaar as a justified means to provide public services aimed at reducing poverty.

At the time, another critic, dissenting justice D.Y. Chandrachud declared Aadhaar “unconstitutional.”

In light of the recent objections to the ruling, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar will lead a panel of five judges to address and examine the grievances laid out in the petitions. The group of petitioners, which includes an Indian MP, criticizes Aadhaar for violating the constitution by encroaching on citizens’ privacy through its inclusions of their financial information such as tax filings.

The passage of the Aadhaar Act by the Lok Sabha as a Money Bill is unconstitutional, one of the petitions argues. Aadhaar’s need for personal financial information appears to be the other major point of contention in this recent debate. Another petition noted that while the constitution states that demographic information shall not include personal income data, Aadhaar makes sharing of such information compulsory. More specifically, tax regulations state that failure to provide said information will disqualify users from obtaining public benefits as their permanent account number or ‘PAN’ card will be invalidated.

Beyond these grievances, critics called into question Aadhaar’s compliance with data privacy regulations, as citizens’ biometric data has allegedly been transmitted to foreign-based biometric service providers.

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