Aadhaar project has been suffering from numerous legal and technical infirmities. This has made the Aadhaar project and UIDAI an illegal and unconstitutional project and authority respectively. In its present form Aadhaar project was a fit case for its scrapping by the Narendra Modi government.
However, the Modi government made a policy decision to continue with the Aadhaar project. The government has also shown its inclination to remove the legal infirmities by which the Aadhaar project and UIDAI are suffering. As per media reports the Modi government is planning to formulate a legislation to make aadhaar project and UIDAI legal.
At the same time, Privacy rights in India must also be protected by Modi government. Modi government must not forget that Privacy is our Human Right and not a government charity. Till now the Modi government has not shown any political will to formulate the privacy law of India.
On the other hand, the Modi government has been continuing with unconstitutional e-surveillance projects like Central Monitoring System and NETRA. There is also no indication that Privacy law of India would be formulated soon. In these circumstances, it would be a tough task for Indian government to formulate a legal and constitutionally sound law for Aadhaar project and UIDAI.
It would also be a futile exercise to make a law for Aadhaar project by simply arranging few provisions here and there. The proposed law must be strictly constitutional in nature to avoid legal challenges before the courts. The illegality of Aadhaar project has already been questioned before Indian courts. The Supreme Court of India has already held that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for availing public services in India. The Supreme Court has also prohibited UIDAI from sharing biometric data with Indian Government Agencies without data owner’s consent.
Meanwhile, the Modi government may approach the Supreme Court and seek clarification regarding the stay on government’s move to use Aadhaar for availing benefits of welfare schemes and direct benefits transfer (DBT) schemes. Modi has already asked finance minister Arun Jaitley to try and resolve all legal issues surrounding Aadhaar. However, this is not an easy task and there is no sense in launching Aadhaar project before resolving all these issues.
The Modi government’s first budget has allocated a huge amount of public money for the Aadhaar project. However, not even a single rupee must be spent till Aadhaar project and UIDAI are made legal and constitutional. Much public money has already been wasted and the Modi government must not repeat the mistake committed by Congress government.