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Rosy Sequereia, TNN March 19,2013


MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Unique Identification Authority of India and the Centre to decide on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in Aadhar cards. A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta was hearing a petition by Vickram Crishna and others claiming there is lack of security and confidentiality, and no safety mechanism to ensure that private data are not circulated.

The petition challenged the January 2008 notification setting up the UID and urged the court to restrain the authority from taking further steps. The petitioners’ advocate, Mihir Desai, argued that on December 13, 2012, the standing committee on finance rejected the proposed bill on UID saying it was riddled with problems, such as lack of clarity, and would not eradicate the need to provide other documents for identification.

He said the UID was constituted only by a notification and questioned whether it has considered measures for confidentiality and privacy given that it is being applied for the largest population in India. “The magnitude is huge. Large set-ups don’t have it. Internationally it has failed. It was scrapped in the UK and in the US, it was whittled down,” said Desai.

Justice Shah said, “Issues such as privacy, security and confidentiality can be taken care of by the authorities only.”

When Desai pointed out that the technical know-how is lacking for a large set-up like India and, in certain places identity screening facility is absent, the judges, in their order, said, “We do not propose to go into the merits of the controversy as the petitioners cannot pray for a writ of mandamus without first making representation to the authorities concerned, which are supposed to implement the project and take a decision.”

Disposing of the PIL, the HC directed the petitioners to make a representation within two weeks to the authority and the Centre and told the latter to take a decision within four months.