Right to privacy concerns: Aadhaar holder can block his biometric info, Govt tells Supreme Court

It is for the first time that the government or the UIDAI has disclosed that a mechanism exists under which a card holder can choose to block the biometric information linked to his Aadhaar card.

After a three-judge bench had refused to modify its directive restricting Aadhaar’s use to public distribution system and LPG subsidy, the law officer was seeking the Constitution Bench’s nod so that Aadhaar could be used for the government’s ambitious plans such as Digital India, and by Reserve Bank of India and various regulators.

It is for the first time that the government or the UIDAI has disclosed that a mechanism exists under which a card holder can choose to block the biometric information linked to his Aadhaar card. Sources said this mechanism was introduced some time back following clamour from rights activists that Aadhaar allegedly trampled upon the right to privacy and that once enrolled, a card holder could not de-register.

Meanwhile, the bench asked Rohatgi if the government’s concept of “voluntariness” will be consistent with the plans to make Aadhaar a pre-requisite for providing benefits under social welfare schemes.

Rohatgi said Aadhaar was “purely voluntary” and if somebody does not want to have a card or does not want to use it, he may decide to do so “but 92 crore card holders cannot be deprived of the benefits because some are opposed to it”.