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Supreme Court order on #Aadhaar #UID

 

REPORTABLE IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.494 OF 2012

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Another … Petitioners

Versus

Union of India & Others

… Respondents

WITH

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO.151 OF 2013 TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO.152 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.829 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.833 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.932 OF 2013
TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.312 OF 2014 TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.313 OF 2014
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.37 OF 2015
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.220 OF 2015
TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.921 OF 2015 CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.144 OF 2014 IN WP(C) 494/2012 CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.470 OF 2015 IN WP(C) 494/2012

ORDER

1. In this batch of matters, a scheme propounded by the Government of India popularly known as “Aadhaar Card Scheme” is under attack on various counts. For the purpose of this order, it is not necessary for us to go into the details of the nature of the scheme

1

and the various counts on which the scheme is attacked. Suffice it to say that under the said scheme the Government of India is collecting and compiling both the demographic and biometric data of the residents of this country to be used for various purposes, the details of which are not relevant at present.

2. One of the grounds of attack on the scheme is that the very collection of such biometric data is violative of the “right to privacy”. Some of the petitioners assert that the right to privacy is implied under Article 21 of the Constitution of India while other petitioners assert that such a right emanates not only from Article 21 but also from various other articles embodying the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of the Constitution of India.

3. When the matter was taken up for hearing, Shri Mukul Rohatgi, learned Attorney General made a submission that in view of the judgments of this Court in M.P. Sharma & Others v. Satish Chandra & Others, AIR 1954 SC 300 and Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. & Others, AIR 1963 SC 1295, (decided by Eight and Six Judges respectively) the legal position regarding the existence of the fundamental right to privacy is doubtful. Further, the learned Attorney General also submitted that in a catena of decisions of this Court rendered subsequently, this Court referred to “right to privacy”, contrary to the judgments in the abovementioned cases which resulted

2

in a jurisprudentially impermissible divergence of judicial opinions.

“A power of search and seizure is in any system of jurisprudence an overriding power of the State for the protection of social security and that power is necessarily regulated by law. When the Constitution makers have thought fit not to subject such regulation to constitutional limitations by recognition of a fundamental right to privacy, analogous to the American Fourth Amendment, we have no justification to import it, into a totally different fundamental right, by some process of strained construction. [See: M.P. Singh & Others v. Satish Chandra & Others, AIR 1954 SC 300, page 306 para 18]

“… Nor do we consider that Art. 21 has any relevance in the context as was sought to be suggested by learned counsel for the petitioner. As already pointed out, the right of privacy is not a guaranteed right under our Constitution and therefore the attempt to ascertain the movement of an individual which is merely a manner in which privacy is invaded is not an infringement of a fundamental right guaranteed by Part III.” [See: Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. & Others, AIR 1963 SC 1295, page 1303 para 20]

[Emphasis supplied]
4. Learned Attorney General submitted that such impermissible

divergence of opinion commenced with the judgment of this Court in Gobind v. State of M.P. & Another, (1975) 2 SCC 148, which formed the basis for the subsequent decision of this Court wherein the “right to privacy” is asserted or at least referred to. The most important of such cases are R. Rajagopal & Another v. State of Tamil Nadu & Others, (1994) 6 SCC 632 (popularly known as Auto Shanker’s case) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India & Another, (1997) 1 SCC 301.

5. All the judgments referred to above were rendered by smaller Benches of two or three Judges.
6. Shri K.K. Venugopal, learned senior counsel appearing for one of

3

the respondents submitted that the decision of this Court in Gobind (supra) is not consistent with the decisions of this Court in M.P. Sharma and Kharak Singh. He submitted that such divergence is also noticed by the academicians, Shri F.S. Nariman, Senior Advocate of this Court and Shri A.M. Bhattacharjee1, Former Chief Justice, High Court at Calcutta and High Court at Bombay.

7. Therefore, it is submitted by the learned Attorney General and Shri Venugopal that to settle the legal position, this batch of matters is required to be heard by a larger Bench of this Court as these matters throw up for debate important questions – (i) whether there is any “right to privacy” guaranteed under our Constitution. (ii) If such a right exists, what is the source and what are the contours of such a right as there is no express provision in the Constitution adumbrating the right to privacy. It is therefore submitted that these batch of matters are required to be heard and decided by a larger bench of at least five Judges in view of the mandate contained under Article 145(3)2 of the Constitution of India.

1

2

A.M. Bhattacharjee , Equality, Liberty & Property under the Constitution of India, (Eastern Law House, New Delhi, 1997)

Article 145(3).

The minimum number of Judges who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a

substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution or for the purpose of hearing any reference

under Article 143 shall be five:

Provided that, where the Court hearing an appeal under any of the provisions of this chapter other than Article 132

consists of less than five Judges and in the course of the hearing of the appeal the Court is satisfied that the appeal involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution the determination of which is

4

8. On behalf of the petitioners Shri Gopal Subramanium and Shri Shyam Divan, learned senior counsel very vehemently opposed the suggestion that this batch of matters is required to be heard by a larger bench. According to them:

(i) The conclusions recorded by this Court in R. Rajagopal and PUCL are legally tenable for the reason that the observations made in M.P. Sharma regarding the absence of right to privacy under our Constitution are not part of ratio decidendi of that case and, therefore, do not bind the subsequent smaller Benches.

(ii) Coming to the case of Kharak Singh, majority in Kharak Singh did hold that the right of a person not to be disturbed at his residence by the State and its officers is recognized to be a part of a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 which is nothing but an aspect of privacy. The observation in para 20 of the majority judgment at best can be construed only to mean that there is no fundamental right of privacy against the State’s authority to keep surveillance on the activities of a person. Even such a conclusion cannot be good law any more in view of the express declaration made by a seven-Judge bench decision of this Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India & Another, (1978) 1 SCC 2483.

3 Para 5. .. Kharak Singh v. State of U.P., AIR 1963 SC 1295

necessary for the disposal of the appeal, such Court shall refer the question for opinion to a Court constituted as required by this clause for the purpose of deciding any case involving such a question and shall on receipt of the

opinion dispose of the appeal in conformity with such opinion

It was in

that the question as to the proper scope and

meaning of the expression ‘personal liberty’ came up pointedly for consideration for the first time before this Court. The

5

(iii) They further argued that both M.P. Sharma (supra) and Kharak Singh (supra) came to be decided on an interpretation of the Constitution based on the principles expounded in A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, AIR 1950 SC 27. Such principles propounded by A.K. Gopalan themselves came to be declared wrong by a larger Bench of this Court in Rustom Cavasjee Cooper v. Union of India, (1970) 1 SCC 248. Therefore, there is no need for the instant batch of matters to be heard by a larger Bench.

9. It is true that Gobind (supra) did not make a clear declaration that there is a right to privacy flowing from any of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of the Constitution of India, but

observed that “Therefore, even assuming that the right to personal liberty, the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and the freedom of speech create an independent right of privacy as an emanation from them which one can

characterize as a fundamental right, we do not think that the right is absolute”. This Court proceeded to decide the case on such basis.
10. However, the subsequent decisions in R. Rajagopal (supra) and

majority of the Judges took the view “that ‘personal liberty’ is used in the article as a compendious term to include within itself all the varieties of rights which go to make up the ‘personal liberties’ of man other than those- dealt with in the

several clauses of Article 19(1). In other words, while Article

19(1)

deals with particular species or attributes, of that

freedom, ‘personal liberty’ in Article

21

takes in and comprises the residue”. The minority judges, however, disagreed

with this view taken by the majority and explained their position in the following words: “No doubt the expression ‘personal liberty’ is a comprehensive one and the right to move freely is an attribute of personal liberty. It is said that the freedom to move freely is carved out of personal liberty and, therefore, the expression ‘personal liberty’ in

Article

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excludes that attribute. In our view, this is not a correct approach. Both are independent fundamental rights,

though there is overlapping. There is no question of one being carved out of another. The fundamental right of life and

personal liberty has many attributes and some of them are found in Article

19. If a person’s fundamental right under

Article

21

is infringed, the State can rely upon a law to sustain the action, but that cannot be a complete answer unless

the said law satisfies the test laid down in Article

19(2) so far as the attributes covered by Article

19(1)

are concerned”.

There can be no doubt that in view of the decision of this Court in R. C. Cooper v. Union of India,

the

minority view must be regarded as correct and the majority view must be held to have been overruled.

(1970) 2 SCC 298

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PUCL (supra), the Benches were more categoric in asserting the existence of “right to privacy”. While R. Rajagopal’s case4 held that the “right to privacy” is implicit under Article 21 of the Constitution, PUCL’s case held that the “right to privacy” insofar as it pertains to speech is part of fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution5.

11. Elaborate submissions are made at the bar by the learned

counsel for the petitioners to demonstrate that world over in all the

countries where Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence is followed, ‘privacy’ is

recognised as an important aspect of the liberty of human beings. It is

further submitted that it is too late in the day for the Union of India to

argue that the Constitution of India does not recognise privacy as an

aspect of the liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. At

least to the extent that the right of a person to be secure in his house

and not to be disturbed unreasonably by the State or its officers is

4

5 Para 18. “The right to privacy — by itself — has not been identified under the Constitution. As a concept it may be too broad and moralistic to define it judicially. Whether right to privacy can be claimed or has been infringed in a given case would depend on the facts of the said case. But the right to hold a telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office without interference can certainly be claimed as “right to privacy”. Conversations on the telephone are often of an intimate and confidential character. Telephone conversation is a part of modern man’s life. It is considered so important that more and more people are carrying mobile telephone instruments in their pockets. Telephone conversation is an important facet of a man’s private life. Right to privacy would certainly include telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office. Telephone-tapping would, thus, infract Article 21 of the Constitution of India unless it is permitted under the procedure established by law.

19. Right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. This freedom means the right to express one’s convictions and opinions freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture, or in any other manner. When a person is talking on telephone, he is exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression. Telephone-tapping unless it comes within the grounds of restrictions under Article 19(2) would infract Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.”

Para 9. “Right to privacy is not enumerated as a fundamental right in our Constitution but has been inferred from Article 21.”

7

expressly recognized and protected in Kharak Singh (supra) though the majority did not describe that aspect of the liberty as a right of privacy, it is nothing but the right of privacy.
12. We are of the opinion that the cases on hand raise far reaching questions of importance involving interpretation of the Constitution. What is at stake is the amplitude of the fundamental rights including that precious and inalienable right under Article 21. If the observations made in M.P. Sharma (supra) and Kharak Singh (supra) are to be read literally and accepted as the law of this country, the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India and more particularly right to liberty under Article 21 would be denuded of vigour and vitality. At the same time, we are also of the opinion that the institutional integrity and judicial discipline require that pronouncement made by larger Benches of this Court cannot be ignored by the smaller Benches without appropriately explaining the reasons for not following the pronouncements made by such larger Benches. With due respect to all the learned Judges who rendered the subsequent judgments – where right to privacy is asserted or referred to their Lordships concern for the liberty of human beings, we are of the humble opinion that there appears to be certain amount of apparent unresolved contradiction in the law declared by this Court. 13. Therefore, in our opinion to give a quietus to the kind of

8

controversy raised in this batch of cases once for all, it is better that the ratio decidendi of M.P. Sharma (supra) and Kharak Singh (supra) is scrutinized and the jurisprudential correctness of the subsequent decisions of this Court where the right to privacy is either asserted or referred be examined and authoritatively decided by a Bench of appropriate strength.

14. We, therefore, direct the Registry to place these matters before the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders.

New Delhi August 11, 2015

………………………………J. (J. Chelameswar)

……………………………….J. (S.A. Bobde)

……………………………….J. (C. Nagappan)

9

REPORTABLE IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.494 OF 2012

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Another …Petitioners

Versus

Union of India & Others

… Respondents

WITH
TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO.151 OF 2013

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO.152 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.829 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.833 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.932 OF 2013
TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.312 OF 2014 TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.313 OF 2014
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.37 OF 2015
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.220 OF 2015
TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.921 OF 2015 CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.144 OF 2014 IN WP(C) 494/2012 CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.470 OF 2015 IN WP(C) 494/2012

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ORDER
Having regard to importance of the matter, it is desirable

that the matter be heard at the earliest.

New Delhi August 11, 2015

………………………………J. (J. Chelameswar)

………………………………J. (S.A. Bobde)

………………………………J. (C. Nagappan)

11

REPORTABLE IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.494 OF 2012

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Another … Petitioners

Versus

Union of India & Others

… Respondents

WITH

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO.151 OF 2013 TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO.152 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.829 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.833 OF 2013
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.932 OF 2013
TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.312 OF 2014 TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.313 OF 2014
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.37 OF 2015
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.220 OF 2015
TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO.921 OF 2015 CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.144 OF 2014 IN WP(C) 494/2012 CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.470 OF 2015 IN WP(C) 494/2012

INTERIM ORDER

After the matter was referred for decision by a larger Bench, the learned counsel for the petitioners prayed for further interim orders. The last interim order in force is the order of this Court dated 23.9.2013 which reads as follows:-

“….

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All the matters require to be heard finally. List all matters for final hearing after the Constitution Bench is over.

In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.”

It was submitted by Shri Shyam Divan, learned counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners having pointed out a serious breach of privacy in their submissions, preceding the reference, this Court may grant an injunction restraining the authorities from proceeding further in the matter of obtaining biometrics etc. for an Aadhaar card. Shri Shyam Divan submitted that the biometric information of an individual can be circulated to other authorities or corporate bodies which, in turn can be used by them for commercial exploitation and, therefore, must be stopped.

The learned Attorney General pointed out, on the other hand, that this Court has at no point of time, even while making the interim order dated 23.9.2013 granted an injunction restraining the Unique Identification Authority of India from going ahead and obtaining biometric or other information from a citizen for the purpose of a Unique Identification Number, better known as “Aadhaar card”. It was further submitted that the respondents

have gone ahead with the project and have issued Aadhaar cards to

13

about 90% of the population. Also that a large amount of money has been spent by the Union Government on this project for issuing Aadhaar cards and that in the circumstances, none of the well-known consideration for grant of injunction are in favour of the petitioners.

The learned Attorney General stated that the respondents do not share any personal information of an Aadhaar card holder through biometrics or otherwise with any other person or authority. This statement allays the apprehension for now, that there is a widespread breach of privacy of those to whom an Aadhaar card has been issued. It was further contended on behalf of the petitioners that there still is breach of privacy. This is a matter which need not be gone into further at this stage.

The learned Attorney General has further submitted that the Aadhaar card is of great benefit since it ensures an effective implementation of several social benefit schemes of the Government like MGNREGA, the distribution of food, ration and kerosene through PDS system and grant of subsidies in the distribution of LPG. It was, therefore, submitted that restraining the respondents from issuing further Aadhaar cards or fully utilising the existing Aadhaar cards for the social schemes of the Government should be allowed.

The learned Attorney General further stated that the

14

respondent Union of India would ensure that Aadhaar cards would only be issued on a consensual basis after informing the public at large about the fact that the preparation of Aadhaar card involving the parting of biometric information of the individual, which shall however not be used for any purpose other than a social benefit schemes.

Having considered the matter, we are of the view that the balance of interest would be best served, till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench if the Union of India or the UIDA proceed in the following manner:-

1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;

3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;

4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique

15

Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.

Ordered accordingly.

New Delhi August 11, 2015

………………………………J. (J. Chelameswar)

………………………………J. (S.A. Bobde)

………………………………J. (C. Nagappan)

16

ITEM NO.1               COURT NO.6            SECTION PIL(W)/XVIA

SUPREM E COURT OF INDIA RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

               Writ Petition(s)(Civil)  No(s).  494/2012
JUSTICE K.S.PUTTASWAMY(RETD)& ANR                  Petitioner(s)
UNION OF INDIA & ORS.
Respondent(s)

VERSUS

(With appln(s) for stay, impleadment, clarification/modification
of Court's order, intervention, directions, impleadment,
permission to file additional documents and office report)
(For Final Disposal)
WITH
T.C.(C) No. 151/2013
(With impleadment as party respondent and modification of Court's
order)
T.C.(C) No. 152/2013
W.P.(C) No. 829/2013
(With appln.(s) for impleadment and impleadment/directions and
interim relief and office report)
W.P.(C) No. 833/2013
(With appln.(s) for impleadment and appln.(s) for permission to
file additional documents and Office Report)
W.P.(C) No. 932/2013
(With appln.(s) for directions and interim directions and Office
Report)
T.P.(C) No. 312/2014
(With Office Report)
T.P.(C) No. 313/2014
(With Office Report)
W.P.(C) No. 37/2015
(With amendment of memo of parties and interim stay and
permission to file additional documents and office report)
W.P.(C) No. 220/2015
(Directions)

17

T.P.(C) No. 921/2015
(Office report)
Contempt Petition(C) No. 144/2014 in W.P.(C) No. 494/2012
(Directions)
Contempt Petition(C) No. 470/2015 in W.P.(C) No. 494/2012
(With appln(s) for exemption from filing O.T.)
Date : 11/08/2015 These petitions were called on for
                   pronouncement of orders today.
CORAM :
         HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE J. CHELAMESWAR
         HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE S.A. BOBDE
         HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE C. NAGAPPAN
For Petitioner(s)
WP(C) No. 829/2013
          For
WP(C) no. 37/2015
Mr. Shyam Divan, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Aayush Agarwal, Adv.
Ms. Prasanna S., Adv.
Ms. Niharika, Adv.
Mr. Pratap Venugopal, Adv.
Mr. Gaurav Nair, Adv.
M/s. K.J. John & Co.
Mr. Gopal Subramanium, Sr. Adv.
Ms. Aishwarya Bhati,Adv.
Mr. Talha Abdul Rahman, Adv.
Mr. Prateek Chaddha, Adv.
Mr. Ankur Kashyap, Adv.
Mr. Kushagra Pandey, Adv.
Ms. Anusha Ramesh, Adv.
Mr. Rudra Pratap, Adv.
Mr. Saransh Kumar, Adv.
Mr. Anirban Sen, Adv.
Ms. Neha Meena, Adv.
Ms. Madhurima Ghosh, Adv.
Mr. T. Gopal, Adv.
Mr. Soli Sorabjee,Sr.Adv.
Mr. Anil B. Diwan, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Ankit Goel, Adv.
Mr. Sanjay Kumar Yadav, Adv.
Mr. Anish Kumar Gupta,Adv.
Mrs. Geetha Kovilan,Adv.
Mr. P.R. Kovilan, Adv.
WP(C) no. 494/2012
TP(C) No. 151/2013

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18

TP(C) No. 921/2015
TC(C) No. 152/2013

for

WP(C) no. 932/2013
CC(C) no. 470/2015
For Respondent(s)
UOI
Ms. Pinky Anand, ASG
Mr. A.K. Sanghi, Sr. Adv.
Mr. S.S. Rawat, Adv.
Mr. D.S. Mahra, Adv.
Ms. Meenakshi Arora, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Rahul Narayan,Adv.
Mr. Mohit Singh, Adv.
Mr. Vijay Kumar,Adv.
Mr. Amit Meharia, Adv.
Mr. Dhritiman Das, Adv.
M/s. Meharia & Company,Adv.
Dr. Abhishek Atrey, Adv.
Mr. Sella Kumar, Adv.
Mr. Sumit Rajora, Adv.
Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, AG
Ms. Pinky Anand, ASG
Mr. R. Balasubramanian, Adv.
Mr. Ajay Sharma, Adv.
Mr. S.S. Rawat, Adv.
Ms. Devanshi Singh, Adv.
Ms. Binu Tamta, Adv.
Mr. Zoheb Hossain, Adv.
Ms. Kritika Sachdeva, Adv.
Ms. Ranjeeta Rohatgi,Adv.
Mr. Vakul Sharma, Adv.
Ms. Meenakshi Grover, Adv.
Mr. Karan Seth, Adv.
Mr. D.S. Mahra, Adv.
Mr. K.K. Venugopal, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Adv.
Ms. Prerna Priyadarshini, Adv.
Mr. Ankur Talwar, Adv.
Ms. Nidhi, Adv.
Ms. Savita Singh, Adv.
Mr. S. Udaya Kumar Sagar, Adv.
Mr. Krishna Kumar Singh, Adv.

-3-

IA no. 11/2014
State of Telangana

19

RBI

NCT of Delhi
State of Goa
A&N Administration
State of Assam
State of HP
Mr. Jayant Bhushan, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Kuldeep S. Parihar, Adv.
Mr. H.S. Parihar, Adv.
Mr. J.M. Kalia, Adv.
Mr. Ninad Laud, Adv.
Mr. Karan Mathur, Adv.
Mr. Jayant Mohan, Adv.
Mr. K.V. Jagdeshvaran, Adv.
Ms. G. Indira, Adv.
M/s.Corporate Law Group
Mr. J.S. Attri, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Suryanarayana Singh, Sr. AAG
Mr. Varinder Kumar Sharma, Adv.
Ms. Pragati Neekhra, Adv.
State of MaharashtraMr. Nachiketa Joshi, Adv.
                    Mr. Nishant Katneshwarkar, Adv.
                    Mr. E.C. Agrawala, Adv.
State of Bihar
State of AP
State of UttarakhandMr. Jatinder K. Bhatia, Adv.

State of TN

State of Manipur
State of Mizoram
Mr. B. Balaji, Adv.
Mr. R. Rakesh Sharma, Adv.
Mr. Mishra Saurabh, Adv.
Mr. Sapam Biswajit Meitei, Adv.
Mr. Z.H. Isaac Haiding, Adv.
Mr. S. Vijayanand Sharma, Adv.
Mr. Ashok Kumar Singh, Adv.
Mr. K.N. Madhusoodhanan, Adv.
Mr. T.G.N. Nair, Adv.

-4-

Mr. Abhinav Mukerji, Adv.
Ms. Bihu Sharma, Adv.
Mr. Guntur Prabhakar, Adv.
Ms. Prerna Singh, Adv.

20

State of Sikkim
State of Nagaland

ECI

State of Assam
State of Arunachal
Pradesh
UT Chandigarh
State of Kerala
State of Punjab
State of Jharkhand
Mr. A. Mariarputham, AG
Ms. Aruna Mathur, Adv.
Mr. Yusuf Khan, Adv.
Mr. K. Vijay Kumar, Adv.
M/s.Arputham Aruna & Co.
Ms. K. Enatoli Sema, Adv.
Mr. Edward Belho, Adv.
Mr. Amit Kumar Singh, Adv.
Mr. Ashok Desai, Sr. Adv.
Mr. S.K. Mendiratta, Adv.
Ms. Monisha Nanda, Adv.
Mr. Mohit D. Ram, Adv.
Mr. Sajjan Poovayya, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Praveen Sehrawat, Adv.
Mr. Priyadarshi Banerjee, Adv.
Mr. Sarans Jain, Adv.
Mr. Gopal Singh, Adv.
Mr. Rituraj Biswas, Adv.
Ms. Rashmi Srivastava, Adv.
Mr. Anil Shrivastav, Adv.
Mr. Rituraj Biswas, Adv.
Ms. Vimla Sinha, Adv.
Mr. Gopal Singh, Adv.
Mr. Jogy Scaria, Adv.
Mr. Reegan S. Bel, Adv.
Mr. Sanchar Anand, AAG
Mr. Apoorv Singhal, Adv.
Mr. Jagjit Singh Chhabra, Adv.
Mr. Ajit Kumar Sinha, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Tapesh Kumar Singh, Adv.
Mr. Mohd. Waquas, Adv.
State of ChhatisgarhMr. C.D. Singh, Adv.
                    Ms. Sylona Mohapatara, Adv.

Govt. of Puducherry Mr. V.G. Pragasam, Adv.
Mr. Prabu Ramasubramanian,Adv.

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21

IA No. 5/2014 in
WP(C) no. 833/2013
State of WB
State of Rajasthan
Mr. Praveen Sehrawat, Adv.
Mr. Priyadarshi Banerjee, Adv.
Mr. Nikhil Nayyar,Adv.
Ms. Anitha Shenoy,Adv.
Mr. Soumitra G. Chaudhuri, Adv.
Mr. Anip Sachthey,Adv.
Mr. Shiv Mangal Sharma, AAG
Ms. Abhinandini Sharma, Adv.
Mr. Nishit Agrawal, Adv.
Ms. Anjali Chauhan, Adv.
Mr. Shrey Kapoor, Adv.
Mr. Saurabh Rajpal, Adv.
Mr. Milind Kumar, Adv.
Ms. Ruchi Kohli, Adv.
Mr. Aniruddha P. Mayee,Adv.
Mr. Garvesh Kabra,Adv.
Ms. Hemantika Wahi,Adv.
Ms. Jesal Wahi, Adv.
Ms. Vinakshi Kadan, Adv.
Mr. Saikrishna Rajagopal, Adv.
Mr. Arjun Ranganathan, Adv.
Ms. Julien George, Adv.
Ms. C. K. Sucharita,Adv.
Mr. Kamal Mohan Gupta,Adv.
Mr. Dinkar Kalra, Adv.
Mr. Amit Sharma, Adv.
Mr. T.G. Narayan Nair, Adv.
State of Gujarat

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     UPON HEARING the Counsel The Court made the following

O RDER

10.30 a.m.

By a reasoned order, the matters are referred to a Bench of appropriate strength.

Having regard to importance of the matter, it is desirable that the matter be heard at the earliest.

2.00 p.m.

After the matter was referred for decision by a larger Bench, the learned counsel for the petitioners prayed for further interim orders. The last interim order in force is the order of this Court dated 23.9.2013 which reads as follows:-

“….

All the matters require to be heard finally. List all matters for final hearing after the Constitution Bench is over.

In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.”

It was submitted by Shri Shyam Divan, learned counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners having pointed out a serious breach of privacy in their submissions, preceding the reference, this Court may grant an injunction restraining the authorities from proceeding further in the matter of obtaining biometrics etc. for an Aadhaar card. Shri Shyam Divan submitted that the biometric information of an individual can be circulated to other authorities or corporate bodies which, in turn can be used by them for commercial exploitation and, therefore, must be stopped.

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The learned Attorney General pointed out, on the other hand, that this Court has at no point of time, even while making the interim order dated 23.9.2013 granted an injunction restraining the Unique Identification Authority of India from going ahead and obtaining biometric or other information from a citizen for the purpose of a Unique Identification Number, better known as “Aadhaar card”. It was further submitted that the respondents have gone ahead with the project and have issued Aadhaar cards to about 90% of the population. Also that a large amount of money has been spent by the Union Government on this project for issuing Aadhaar cards and that in the circumstances, none of the well-known consideration for grant of injunction are in favour of the petitioners.

The learned Attorney General stated that the respondents do not share any personal information of an Aadhaar card holder through biometrics or otherwise with any other person or authority. This statement allays the apprehension for now, that there is a widespread breach of privacy of those to whom an Aadhaar card has been issued. It was further contended on behalf of the petitioners that there still is breach of privacy. This is a matter which need not be gone into further at this stage.

The learned Attorney General has further submitted that the Aadhaar card is of great benefit since it ensures an effective implementation of several social benefit schemes of the Government like MGNREGA, the distribution of food, ration and kerosene through PDS system and grant of subsidies in the distribution of LPG. It was, therefore, submitted that restraining the respondents from issuing further Aadhaar cards or fully utilising the existing Aadhaar cards for the social schemes of the Government should be allowed.

The learned Attorney General further stated that the respondent Union of India would ensure that Aadhaar cards would only be issued on a consensual basis after informing the public at large about the fact that the preparation of Aadhaar card involving the parting of biometric information of the individual, which shall however not be used for any purpose other than a social benefit schemes.

Having considered the matter, we are of the view that the balance of interest would be best served, till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench if the Union of India or the UIDA proceed in the following manner:-

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1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;

3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;

4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.

     Ordered accordingly.

(DEEPAK MANSUKHANI) (INDU BALA KAPUR) COURT MASTER COURT MASTER

          (Three signed reportable Orders are placed on the file)

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