What Is Wrong With ‘One-Nation, One-Identity’: Supreme Court Asks West Bengal Government


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the West Bengal government for its stance against the Center’s Aadhaar plan, saying it was wrong to have a ‘one nation, one identity’ for all Indians through the measure.

The government of Mamata Banerjee, who on Tuesday challenged the Aadhaar plan and its enabling Act of 2016, told a five-judge constitutional court headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra that Indianness has nothing to do with a type particular identity.

The state government has attacked the plan for reasons that include that it would lead to ‘a nation, an identity’.

“Yes, we are all citizens of this country and Indianness has nothing to do with this kind of identity,” he told the court, which also included judges AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

The court questioned senior defender Kapil Sibal, who came to the West Bengal government, about what he thought about the concept of “one nation, one identity.”

“We are proud Indians and we are Indians passionately, but everything is wrong with Aadhaar.Indianity has nothing to do with identity.We do not enter this debate because it is more political than legal.We are more than this Aadhaar.That’s all,” Mr. Sibal responded.

The lead counsel, who resumed the arguments, read the Aadhaar Law to say it was an incorrectly worded law with respect to “alternatives,” because there was no scope for authentication of an individual’s identity, except Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar Law does not contemplate other alternatives to establish a person’s identity, Sibal said, adding that banks say they do not want other information or a card and only ask for Aadhaar’s number.

Giving an illustration, he said that the United Kingdom, which initially started a biometric authentication mechanism, discarded it because the system was vulnerable.

“I am not saying that the State misuses my Aadhaar information, but how does Aadhaar make everyone vulnerable? This vulnerability is where the violation of my right comes in,” he said.

Mr. Sibal argued that his first presentation is about data centralization and said that the Single Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) states that it is secure because it is federated, that is, the database is broken and stored in multiple locations

He cited a recent report from the Reserve Bank of India that circulated among its employees, which identified the Central ID Repository as a “single target” for internal / external / indigenous / foreign attacks and also a “single point of failure”.

The bank said that theoretically every centralized database can be pirated, but this does not necessarily mean that it is vulnerable.

“It is an acknowledgment of the fact that he must take extra care and there must be guarantees to protect him,” Judge Chandrachud said.

Mr. Sibal responded: “I need to be sure that my data is protected, but in a digital world, there can not be such security and once my property (biometric information) is lost, in the physical world it can be recovered but in the virtual environment, a world that you can not, this is the future world we are heading to, “he said, adding:” In the digital world, you know more about yourself than you know about yourself. ”

The bank responded: “In the digital world, what is announced is not necessarily true.”

Sibal said that Aadhaar affects federalism and the exclusions caused because it violates the right to equal treatment.

“It disproportionately affects older people, those who work in manual labor and people with disabilities,” he said.

The hearing was inconclusive and will continue tomorrow.

Yesterday, the West Bengal government used the recent speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum in Davos for one to control the data to control the world, to attack the ambitious Aadhaar plan, saying that the Center would control the personal information of the citizens to control it over them.