Do terrorists apply for SIM cards? SC asks Centre why Aadhaar should be linked to mobile phones

The SC said that the government may have "legitimate State interest", but asked how fair would it be to ask 120 crore people to link their Aadhaar with mobile to catch a few.

Do terrorists apply for SIM cards? SC asks Centre why Aadhaar should be linked to mobile phones

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre how legitimate would it be to ask 120 crore people of the country to link their mobile phones to Aadhaar just to get hold of a few terrorists. "Do terrorists apply for SIM cards? It is a problem that you are asking the entire 120 crore people to link their mobile phones with Aadhaar just to catch a few terrorists," a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

The bench also added that the government may have "legitimate State interest", but asked how fair would it be to ask 120 crore people to link their Aadhaar with mobile to catch a few. "Mere legitimate state interest does not ensure proportionality," it added.

The bench is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law. During the hearing, the top court also disagreed with the Centre's submissions and said that Aadhaar cannot stop banking frauds. "There is no doubt about the identity of fraudsters. The bank knows whom it is giving loan and it is the bank officials who are hand-in-glove with the fraudsters. Aadhaar can do little to stop it," the bench said.

The apex court also said that it seems that bank officials are hand in glove with fraudsters and that scams do not happen because the culprits are unknown. "Banking fraud does not happen because of multiple IDs. Aadhaar will not prevent an individual from operating layers of commercial transactions. It would not prevent bank frauds either," the bench told Attorney General KK Venugopal who is representing the Centre. 

The AG had submitted that biometrics were safe and could solve problems like "money laundering, bank frauds, income tax evasion and terrorism". Advocating for Aadhaar, he said that the UIDAI was seeking minimal information to generating Aadhaar and most of it was already available in public domain. He referred to the example of lawyers and said their addresses, phone numbers, photographs are there in public domain. He said the invasion of privacy was very minimal in Aadhaar and it may not even be considered as an invasion.

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