The state of Maharashtra told the apex court that it cannot create a fundamental right, and only Parliament had that power.

UIDAI defends Aadhaar says it cant be used for surveillance Privacy debates continue in SCFIle image
news Law Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - 19:56

Allaying fears of abuse of Aadhaar for “tracking” citizens, the Unique Identification Authority of India told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it was virtually impossible to do so.

The nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, was hearing arguments for the fifth day on whether or not the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of Madhya Pradesh and the UIDAI, said that safeguards built into its systems, as well as restrictions under the law guarantee that Aadhaar cannot be used for the purpose of “surveillance”, even if allowed by a court.

Earlier in the day, appearing for the state of Maharashtra, senior advocate CA Sundaram told the apex court that the designation of a “right” as a fundamental right can only be done by the Parliament.

"This is not the case of interpretation of the Constitution or the law. This is the case of introduction of a right as a fundamental right. This can be done only by Parliament," CA Sundaram told the bench.

ASG Mehta also told the court that, “Nothing is private in the online era." He also suggested that the idea of privacy being a fundamental right, was being blown out of proportion.

He added that several existing laws like the Income Tax Act, the Right to Information Act and the Indian Telegraph Act protects aspects of privacy.

"There are developed developing and underdeveloped countries. Even in some developed countries like US, privacy is a right is fairly limited," Mehta told the court, adding that countries like China and Qatar do not consider privacy as a constitutional right.

Hearings before the nine-judge bench are set to conclude on Wednesday.

A five-judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, on July 18, referred the question to the nine-judge bench of whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right. This was done to examine the correctness of the position taken by an eight-judge bench in 1954, and subsequently by a six-judge bench in 1962, that privacy is not a fundamental right.

The fate of the Aadhaar project being pushed strongly by the central government, and various challenges raised against it, hinge on the nine-judge bench’s decision on the right to privacy.

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