Making this submission before a bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhusha, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said Aadhaar was very essential when the country was witnessing all round progress, especially technologically.
"No data under Aadhaar will be shared with anyone or anybody" except in the case of criminals being investigated by police, Attorney General said that the vires of Section 139AA could not be raised on the strength of an interim order of the court. He pointed to several provisions of the Aadhaar Act which mandate that the enrolling authority should first inform the citizen about how and where biometric details collected from him would be used.
Divan buttressed his arguments by referring to earlier orders of apex court and said, "the Supreme Court has said it is voluntary". It is the worst system and every residents of the country would be under surveillance if it is made mandatory. According to that Act, passed by the Parliament in the last session of the Lok Sabha, the PAN of an individual will be invalidated unless the Aadhaar number or the enrollment number is quoted while filing tax returns.
Comparing it with the system that prevailed prior to the amendment, Rohatgi said that among the 29 crore PAN cardholders, 10 lakh were cancelled as many persons were found to possess multiple PAN cards.
You might want to be forgotten, the state does not want to forget you, Mukul Rohatgi said, adding that the government is not looking to play big brother.
Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number issued by the UIDAI to the residents of India after satisfying the verification process laid down by the Authority. "We understand citizens have an obligation to the State under a social contract".
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The Attorney General further argued that the Centre has saved Rs 50,000 crore on the benefits schemes for the poor and pension schemes as Aadhar has ensured that funds released by the government-run welfare schemes are being delivered at the right place.
The government said "Parliament has decided in its wisdom that you may have to do something which they (petitioner) do not want to do". However, the government also told the Supreme Court that the leakage occurred due to the action of some other government departments and state agencies. This makes it mandatory for citizens to get the unique identity number.
"People can't refuse to furnish data for driving license to argue that government shouldn't collect data for purposes of people who are travelling", Rohtagi argued. "The argument is not that you can not make Aadhaar regulation but it can not infringe upon a citizen's fundamental right", the bench said.
"The concept of civil liberties will go then", he said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.