SC Seeks Centre's Reply on Plea Against Changes in Law Allowing Private Firms to Use Aadhaar Data [22-11-2019]

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments made in the law allowing private entities to use the Aadhaar data provided voluntarily by customers for ID authentication.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justice B R Gavai, took note of the plea filed by S G Vombatkere, who alleged that the 2019 amendments into the Aadhaar Act was violative of the earlier apex court judgments.

Earlier, a 5-judge Constitution bench, while upholding the validity of Aadhaar act, had made certain exceptions and said private entities cannot be allowed to use the data even for voluntary authentication of customers' details.

Later, the Centre amended the law allowing voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity to open bank accounts and get mobile phone connection.

The apex court issued notice on the fresh PIL and tagged it with a separate pending case for hearing.

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in Rajya Sabha in July by a voice vote, although many Opposition parties had opposed it citing various reasons, including apprehensions data theft.

The amendment bill, which also provides for a stiff Rs 1 crore penalty and a jail term for private entities for violating provisions on Aadhaar data, was earlier passed by Lok Sabha on July 4. It was introduced on June 24 to replace an ordinance issued in March 2019.

The amendments provide for use of Aadhaar number for KYC authentication on voluntary basis under the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

It also gives option to children to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age, while stipulating stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.

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22 Nov 2019