Justice Chandrachud questioned the proportionality of subjecting the entire population to the level of intrusion caused by Aadhaar linkage.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Centre as to why it should insist on Aadhaar for all financial transactions as it stigmatises the entire population.
A five-judge bench of Chief justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Kanwilkar, D.Y. Cha-ndrachud and Ashok Bhushan also drew the attention of additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for UIDAI, to the petitioners’ allegation that such insistence creates a feeling among the public that all are under government’s scanner for financial frauds, terrorism and tax evasion.
Refuting the allegation, Mr Mehta told the bench, “We want to link Aadhaar not because we see people as criminals, we only want to protect them from crime. We want to link Aadhaar not because we see people as criminals, we only want to protect them from crime.”
Drawing an analogy Mr Mehta said, “We travel by air and all passengers are frisked... It is to done to protect us from hijacking.”
Justice Sikri intervened and pointed out that frisking is done only for those who “choose to travel. You cannot compare it with the Aadhaar situation where 128 crore people are mandatorily asked to link their mobile SIMs, bank accounts and PAN cards with their Aadhaar cards”.
Mr Mehta said, “When a measure is uniformly applied, it does not mean that everyone is guilty... There is no presumption of guilt on everyone.”
Justice Chandrachud questioned the proportionality of subjecting the entire population to the level of intrusion caused by Aadhaar linkage. He said such levels of intrusion may be justified in combating terrorism or in a case of national security, but should the public be subjected to such intrusion of their privacy only to prevent any chances of tax evasion.
Mr Mehta said the court was right in thinking why the government should “intrude into the privacy of the entire population merely to weed out a few crores, but when tax evasions amount to `33, 000 crore, it is a serious problem which Aadhaar linkage may curb”.
Mr Mehta said the government is conscious of the criticism that the entire population is stigmatised as tax evaders and money launderers, but as a welfare state, the “gravity of public concern” against corruption, blackmoney and money laundering also has to be taken into consideration.
Linking of PAN with Aadhdar was intended to prevent income tax evasion, accumulation, circulation and use of blackmoney and money laundering by imposing a requirement by law for linking Aadhaar for opening bank accounts.