A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has begun the final hearing in the Aadhaar case. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is hearing the petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar contending that it violates an individual’s fundamental right to privacy. Senior Supreme Court lawyer, Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners, told the five-judge Constitution bench that Aadhaar may cause death of citizens’ civil rights. “A people’s Constitution is being sought to be converted into a State’s Constitution,” Divan told the apex court. He claimed that if the Aadhaar programme was allowed to continue unimpeded, it would “hollow out” the Constitution. The counsel said the government’s unique identity programme, which it had rolled out through a “succession of marketing strategies and smoke and mirrors” was “designed to tether every citizen to an electronic leash”. Divan claimed that the Aadhaar programme “inverts the relationship between the citizen and the state.” In August last year, a nine-judge bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had also claimed it violated privacy rights. The issue regarding the validity of Aadhaar and possible leakage of data has cropped up time and again since the inception of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number. On January 15, the Unique Identification Authority of India said it has decided to enable face recognion to add another layer of security for inclusive authentication for Aadhaar card holders. The service will be launched by July 1.
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