India supreme Court has ruled that the country controversial biometric identity scheme is constitutional and does not violate the right to privacy. However the court limited the scope of the Aadhaar scheme, saying it could not be compulsory for bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions. The world largest biometric ID data base covers welfare and tax payments and access to social services. More than a billion Indians have already been enrolled. They received a unique 12 digit identification number after submitting their fingerprints and retina scans. About 30 petitioners went to court to argue that the scheme infringed Indian’s privacy.
What did the judge say ?
Aadhaar gives dignity to the marginalised. Dignity ti the marginalised outwwighs privacy. said the five judge bench, comprising all the sitting judge in the Supreme Court. One cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. Therefore they said that people would still need their Aadhaar numbers to access government welfare schemes and to pay taxes.
However, the court said that private entities including mobile phone operators and banks would no longer have the authority to demand customers’ Aadhaar numbers and instructed the government to bring out a robust data protection law urgently.