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Hearing on Aadhaar: Bill on data protection to be ready by March, Centre tells SC

Karnataka

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the much-awaited bill on data protection — being drafted by a committee of experts headed by Justice BN Srikrishna (retd) — would be ready by March.

Attorney General KK Venugopal gave the information to a Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, which is hearing a batch of petitions that challenged the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act as violative of the fundamental right to privacy.

The expert committee headed by Justice Srikrishna — a former Judge of the apex court — has Department of Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, Unique Identification Authority of India head Ajay Bhushan Pandey, MeitY Additional Secretary Ajay Kumar, Indian Institute of Technology-Raipur Director Prof Rajat Moona, National Cybersecurity Coordinator Gulshan Rai, Indian Institute of Management-Indore Director Prof Rishikesha Krishnan, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’s Arghya Sengupta and Data Security Council of India’s Rama Vedashree as its members.

Continuing his arguments, senior counsel Shyam Divan took the court through the Aadhaar Act provisions to demonstrate that under the statute itself the demographic and biometric data of Indian citizens could be shared with private entities.

As the apex court said that if there were “deficiencies” in the Aadhaar scheme’s implementation, resulting in leaks, the same could be plugged, Divan said: “It (collection of data) can’t be reconciled with (working of) a democratic open society. The entire programme is bad as everyone is entitled to protect himself/herself against exposure of their demographic and biometric data.

Telling the court that the way Aadhaar was being linked with everything “you will have a huge proliferation of data for the purpose of identification”, Divan said: “Lift your imagination much higher than where we are”, understand the implications of the state possessing the biometric data of the citizens.

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