States’s AADHAAR Compulsion has lawyers Livid

Home dept says card mandatory for filing police complaints, advocates argue its a gross violation of fundamental rights

A city-based group of lawyers has raised objections against the state home department’s recent proposal of making the Aadhaar Card compulsory for filing a police complaint in the state, registering an official complaint with the office of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

They have claimed that this is an unconstitutional decision and denial of the right to file a complaint. Speaking to Pune Mirror, advocate Tosif Shaikh said, “This scheme is complete infraction of our fundamental rights under articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). The Supreme Court (SC) had confirmed — while clearing all doubts about the validity of the Aadhaar Card to avail of government subsidies — that it is not compulsory and officials who insist on it will be taken to task. But, through various schemes, the government authorities are insisting on the Aadhaar Card for providing government subsidies and basic services to ordinary citizens. We have no option but to approach the SC against the state.”

The lawyers contended that in a country like India where the crime rate is high and many citizens do not file complaints due to corruption in the police department, such a decision will only help increase red-tapism. The group has suggested that instead of such arbitrary measures, the home department should think seriously about implementing police reforms eliminating deep-rooted corruption from the police force ranks, thereby bringing in more transparency and accountability.

State director general of police Praveen Dixit had declared last week that this move is aimed at having flawless information about the complainant and would go a long way in helping police assist complainants till their case reaches the logical end. The authorities said it would even help the police bridge the communication gap, if any, with the complainant.

But, this didn’t cut much ice with the lawyers, with advocate Sachin Godambe saying, “The SC, in its order dated September 23, 2013, while hearing various petitions challenging the executive order of UIDAI/Aadhaar, has made it clear that it cannot be made mandatory for availing any government service. This decision is a gross violation of the SC order and qualifies for contempt of court proceeding to be initiated against the Maharashtra government.” Advocate Vikas Shinde added, “There is a high possibility of misuse of the Aadhaar cards. If the police avoid taking complaints for not having a UIDAI card, then the whole motive will be lost. The police should first motivate people to use it, before making it compulsory.”

However, a senior official from the state home department insisted, “The move is being implemented across the state on a low scale and the police are not forcing complainants to get a UIDAI card, if they do not have one. But, gradually, it will be made compulsory.”

█ This scheme is complete infraction of our fundamental rights under articles 14 and 21 . The SC had confirmed that it is not compulsory and officials who insist on it will be taken to task.