Govt says it followed rules in seeking Aadhaar details from parents

As the Haryana government continued to face flak from citizens over making Aadhaar details mandatory for the Family ID scheme, a Delhi-based organisation on data privacy wrote to the government stating that the move was against the Supreme Court (SC) judgment on privacy and the Aadhar Act. The Haryana government defended itself by saying that it had followed all rules while requesting the data.

The Family ID scheme or Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP) scheme, first introduced last year, is a massive data collection exercise for efficient delivery of various services, such as title deeds and driving licences, and devising public policy based on the demography and other data points. At the time, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had said Aadhaar details would only be voluntary. It was made mandatory in April this year.

Last week, HT had reported that the state government had issued circulars to parents requesting the data. The scheme will include services like title deeds, driving license among others under one umbrella. However, the parents said they were apprehensive of sharing such personal information.

“The step by the Haryana government to make Aadhaar mandatory for PPP registration is not valid. It violates the apex court judgement (Puttaswamy case of 2017). Instead, they should accept other government verification documents,” said Prasanth Sugathan, legal director, Software Freedom Law Centre, who wrote to the state government on December 3 opposing the move.

In the Puttuswamy case, the Supreme Court held that privacy was a fundamental right and in the Aadhar case, it allowed the unique ID to be made mandatory only for filing income tax returns and government subsidies.

Sugathan said the move comes at a time when there is no law for data protection yet.

“The PPP violates the SC judgement that clearly stated there must be a law to justify encroachment on privacy. In case of PPP, there is no legislation governing data collection and processing. Linking every scheme and service to the scheme will lead to de-facto imposition of the scheme and collection of Aadhaar details ,” said Sugathan.

The PPP scheme is expected to cover almost 6 million people.Currently, three schemes – disability pension, old age allowance and widow pension – are already linked with the scheme.

Sofia Dahiya, secretary of the Citizen Resources Information Department (CRID) and also the finance secretary, the state was not violating any Supreme Court ruling. “Under section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, the state can ask for Aadhaar as a proof of authentication so long as the state issues a notification, which we have done,” said Dahiya.

In the last nine months, the state government issued two notifications linking government schemes with PPP, as well as industries and its labour under it. “Within six months to one year, Family ID will be linked with every government service and scheme. It has been made mandatory for marriage registration recently,” said Dahiya.

She said that information is collected only after people’s consent. “Many a times, people submit wrong details, therefore the data is being electronically verified to be sure whether the data is correct or not. Once all the collected data is verified, it will freeze,” she said.

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