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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court asked on Wednesday what was wrong with the ‘one nation, one identity’ idea in response to a statement by counsel for West Bengal and senior advocate Kapil Sibal that the apex court must decide constitutional validity of this idea, the driving force behind mandatory Aadhaar.
Sibal had said that forcing citizens to get Aadhaar and its linkage to each of their social interactions was to empower the government with the right to information about people and the driving force behind making
. “The real issue to be tested by the Supreme Court is the one nation, one identity idea,” he had said on Tuesday.
READ ALSO: In SC, Kapil Sibal quotes PM Modi to attack Aadhaar
Justice Ashok Bhushan, part of the five-judge Constitution bench which is hearing marathon arguments on petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar on the ground that it violated citizens’ fundamental right to privacy, asked Sibal: “What is wrong with the one nation, one identity idea? After all, we are all Indians and proud of that identity.”
Sibal reacted with sarcasm, saying everything is fine with the idea. But not this to be mistaken as his acquiescence, he said: “Everything is wrong with the idea of one nation, one identity. Let us not get into a debate on that issue in court. I had said that yesterday as a legal argument and not as a political statement. To be Indian and being proud of it is fine, but Aadhaar should not be the determining device for that. We are all fiercely Indian even if we do not have Aadhaar.”
Arresting the debate from veering into unmanageable political level, Justice A K Sikri attempted course correction by attempting to summarise Sibal’s argument. “What you (Sibal) meant was that one nation, one identity does not mean that if one does not have Aadhaar, he does not cease to be an Indian.” Agreeing with Justice Sikri’s summation of his argument, Sibal said: “What I meant was that I am not Aadhaar and Aadhaar is not me.”
Sibal’s main argument was that when a citizen was able to prove his identity through physical documents, the fear of losing that was minimal as the lost identity card could be retrieved or a duplicate prepared. “When one throws an individual’s personal details, the most valuable property of that person, into the digital world through Aadhaar, if the data gets leaked or stolen, then it is lost for ever. It could never be retrieved.”
“Using Aadhaar for authentication at railway stations, airports or hospitals could push the individual to compromise his privacy as his personal activity trail relating to the sector where he is using Aadhaar would be known to that service provider. Use of Aadhaar with biometrics, core biometrics and demographic data of a person would help the service provider to create meta data for commercial use and compromise privacy of citizens. This makes a citizen vulnerable and no state has a right to leave its citizens vulnerable,” he said.
The bench said the government has denied that Aadhaar data could be compromised. Sibal said: “The government cannot deny it. No one can guarantee data safety in a digital world. No one knows how to keep data 100% secure.” The arguments will continue on Thursday.