Need for balance between state's actions and citizens' right: SC

Updated: Jan 25, 2018, 09:08 IST | Agencies

There is a need to strike a balance between individual's privacy rights and the state's responsibilities at a time when the nation faces threats of terrorism and money laundering and to keep a tab on welfare expenditure, the Supreme Court

Representation pic
Representation pic

There is a need to strike a balance between individual's privacy rights and the state's responsibilities at a time when the nation faces threats of terrorism and money laundering and to keep a tab on welfare expenditure, the Supreme Court said yesterday. Its observation came after a senior lawyer, challenging the validity of the government's flagship Aadhaar programme and its enabling Act of 2016, said the Constitution does not allow a surveillance state as it is technically possible now to track every transaction, profile individuals or even "compromise constitutional functionaries".

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, hearing a petitions challenging Aadhaar, said no system in the world was secure and the issue was not as to how data is collected, but how the information so collected is used or misused. "We live in the times of terrorism and money laundering and welfare expenditure (of the state), and this has to be balanced (with individual rights)," the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said.

Senior lawyer Shyam Divan, representing petitioners like former Karnataka HC judge Justice K S Puttaswamy, several activists Aruna Roy and Shantha Sinha, referred to affidavits of former security personnel, Samir Keleker and J D'Souza, to highlight the fact that Aadhaar and its enabling law would lead to "real time surveillance" of citizens. Divan said Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) stores and manages data of Aadhaar project and government is empowered to collect records during the lifetime of an individual, leading to profiling of the person. The advancing of arguments was inconclusive and will continue on January 30.

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