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Can DNA, hair, other samples be taken for Aadhaar asks Supreme Court

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    The Supreme Court sought to know how the Aadhaar Act could allow the State, in future to seek DNA, hair and even semen samples from citizens as biometric information.

    Can DNA, hair, other samples be taken for Aadhaar asks Supreme Court

    The court was referring to the open-ended language of Section 2(g) of the Aadhaar Act that defines biometrics. The section defines biometric information as a photograph, fingerprint, iris scan or such other biological attributes of an individual as may be specified by regulations. The Act does not specify what the phrase 'other biological attributes' mean. The Act also does not prescribe any limit to biometric information.

    The court pointed out that any executive authority could even expand the meaning of biometrics through an administrative order. Does the section not amount to an excessive delegation of power to an executive authority, the court also asked the Centre.

    The court had also said that Aadhaar is not a solution for curbing bank frauds. The bank knows whom it is giving the loan to and it is the bank officials who are hand in glove with the fraudsters, the Supreme Court observed.

    Countering the argument put out by the Centre, the Bench said that there is very little Aadhaar can do to stop bank frauds. It cannot be the solution as there is no doubt about the identity of the fraudsters, the Court also said.

    The Centre had said that Aadhaar is the panacea for all ills in the system including bank frauds.

    Attorney General, K K Venugopal had referred to various reports including that of World Bank and said that they acknowledged that India has taken a step to give an identity to the "poorest of poor", which would finally help in achieving the task of financial inclusion of all.

    The top law officer said that that the development will slow down if there was judicial review of every state action and "courts should not interfere in matters of technical expertise".

    The only duty of the court is to expound the language of the law and it may not decide whether a particular policy decision is fair or not, he said.

    The bench asked Venugopal that the people, opposed to the scheme, say that it violated the doctrine of proportionality.

    The Aadhaar scheme satisfies the test of proportionality by showing a rational nexus between the means and the goal, he said, adding that all subsidies were part of the right to life with dignity and would prevail over the right to privacy.

    "The State has a legitimate state interest in rolling out Aadhaar", he said.

    On the issue of 16-digit virtual Aadhaar ID, Venugopal said that it is an excellent safety measure.

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