Jhuma Sen, Assistant Professor of Law at O.P. Jindal Global University, comments:
When the constitutional validity of the Unique Identification Authority of India (Aadhaar) was challenged last year by a retired judge, Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and a host of other petitioners, the primary question before the Supreme Court was whether the collecting and storing of biometric and other information would compromise a citizen’s right to privacy.
During the final hearings in this case in July, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi – appearing on behalf of the Union of India – claimed that there was no fundamental right to privacy under the Indian constitution. This week, K.K. Venugopal, appearing on behalf of one of the parties, the pro-UID Centre for Civil Society, submitted that even if privacy was a fundamental right, the Aadhaar beneficiaries would not mind waiving it for the sake of accessing welfare benefits. He also submitted that the court could not insist that the beneficiary retain the right to privacy if he wanted to waive it.
It is not clear which of these two assertions is more dangerous – the assumption that the beneficiary would not mind waiving his right to privacy to access benefits, or that a beneficiary should be able to waive his privacy rights if he wants to.
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