Agreeing that the legal position regarding the existence of the fundamental right to privacy is ‘doubtful’, the Supreme Court of India referred the issue to be placed before the Chief Justice of India to be marked for an appropriate Bench.
The Court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the collection of biometric data being violative of the ‘right of privacy’ under Government of India’s ‘Aadhaar Card Scheme’ [Unique Identification Number].
“We are of the opinion that the cases on hand raise far reaching questions of importance involving interpretation of the Constitution. What is at stake is the amplitude of the fundamental rights including that precious and inalienable right under Article 21……….With due respect to all the learned Judges who rendered the subsequent judgments – where right to privacy is asserted or referred to their Lordships concern for the liberty of human beings, we are of the humble opinion that there appears to be certain amount of apparent unresolved contradiction in the law declared by this Court”, a large Bench said.
The Court said till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench the Union of India shall proceed in the following manner:-
1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;
2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;
3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;
4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.