Saturday, August 13, 2022

Timely Judgement

By The Editorial Team Updated: Aug 29, 2017 12:28 am

Within days of passing the historic Triple Talaq judgement, the nine-judge constitutional bench of Supreme Court has delivered another landmark judgement. This time the constitutional bench has observed that Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right. Beyond doubt the judgement came as a relief to citizens as some recent administrative decisions were seen as an effort to curtail individual liberty, which the Indians are enjoying since Independence.
We are not attaching any motive to those decisions. The administration is well within its right to take measures for the well being of the citizens and to smooth the administrative process. Sometimes it took correct measures, sometimes it erred. Thus the process moves on through the trial and error method. So the judgement should not be termed as a victory or defeat for the present day government. Rather, it should be regarded as a corrective measure, which the government overlooked.
The cry to preserve privacy started when the government forced citizens to give their fingerprints and iris scans to get a card with for a unique identification number or otherwise known as the Aadhaar. Then the government made Aadhaar mandatory for various social welfare schemes and also other purposes. After every such decision of the government, it was being argued that Aadhaar is an intrusion to privacy as citizens are indirectly forced to get enrolled. More, authorities have not been able to include all the citizens of the country in to the Aadhaar scheme. So just for not having the unique identification number, a citizen may be denied his or her rightful share of government’s schemes. One must admit here that without addressing these two issues according to their merits, the government went ahead with its decision, which in real sense turned out to be a ‘no Aadhaar, no benefit’ kind of situation for the citizens.
Aadhaar or unique identification number scheme was started by previous UPA Government, led by Dr. Manmohan Singh. Debates followed instantly when the project was launched. Though Dr. Manmohan Singh was in favour of completing the project as early as possible, many of his cabinet colleagues differed. They argued against this project on various grounds. But one must remember that none of them challenged implementation of the project. The debate was mostly regarding the ambit of Aadhaar. But after coming to power, Narendra Modi led NDA Government appeared to be in a hurry to expand Aadhaar’s ambit to every aspect of life – from birth to death, from achieving academic excellence to getting jobs. The recent example of this was the incident when a student from Kashmir could not submit her thesis as she is not an Aadhaar card holder. So arguments were raised that laws are meant to protect the citizens, not to harass them. Just for not having Aadhaar if anyone is denied to complete the thesis, it would be considered not as a personal loss, but a national loss as the government has also spent a considerable amount for that particular research work.
One hopes that after the verdict of the Supreme Court the government will take corrective measures and not try to make Aadhaar mandatory on almost everything and come out with better measures to implement its policies and programmes as per the constitutional bench order respecting Right to privacy as Fundamental right.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Aug 29, 2017 12:28:01 am