Pune: Activists and experts have for long been opposing the flagship Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) programme of the government. Amidst reports of inconveniences caused by the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to various services, telecom and banking customers have been irked by their service providers, who were constantly reminding them to link their Aadhaar details. As the Supreme Court extended the deadline for such linking indefinitely, social activists have welcomed the step.
Justice PB Sawant, who is a renowned jurist and ex-Supreme Court judge, said that the court’s decision is prudent. He said, “The Supreme Court has said that unless it hears out all the sides in the matter, Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory. This is a right decision.”
He added, “It is a very complicated issue. Many poor people are suffering from the compulsion and considering the composition of our society, such compulsion is unfair and unnecessary.”
Sawant also said that Aadhaar issue presents an ethical question before society. “If we make it compulsory for all citizens to submit their information to the government, it is a questionable move. The government shouldn’t look for enemies in its own citizens. A few people can be dangerous enough to be monitored, why should crores of people be put under surveillance for that?” he questioned.
“It is a welcome relief. The way this government is trying to push the Aadhaar down our throats, it is an important step taken by the court, which also defends our right to privacy. I hope in the coming hearings too, the Supreme Court will actually end the Aadhaar programme,” said activist and student leader Umar Khalid. He further said, “The massive collection of information of citizens that the government will have is not only a violation of privacy but of their civil rights.”
Anupam Saraf, one of the most vocal anti-Aadhaar crusaders, said that this decision reaffirms that all the previous seven orders of the SC still uphold and are valid. “From its first order, the SC was saying just this. In October 2015, a 5-member bench had said that Aadhaar will remain voluntary until the SC reaches a decision,” Saraf said, adding, “Any other mandatory linking of Aadhaar apart from the five schemes permitted by the SC is actually illegal and a contempt of court.”
Saraf also said that Aadhaar needs to go. “It is one of the biggest scams of India since Independence. It does not serve either individual nor national interest. The nation’s security, financial institutions have been jeopardised and the trust in them has been destroyed,” he alleged.
Saraf further said, “The government summarily needs to examine that if the SC is saying this for the eighth time, then the government should actually shut down the programme and destroy the database like they did in the UK.”