As the digital era continues to evolve at an unprecedented rate, more issues continue to arise on how to implement laws and regulations to govern the way people use the digital platforms available in their respective countries.
In India, the top court has ruled that privacy is a fundamental right and thus every citizen is entitled to it.
As much as this is the case, it may have certain limitations, as it brings into question how the country’s biometric voter registration will work out.
The Supreme Court, which is under the judicial arm of the government, comprises of a nine-bench judge who ruled that indeed privacy was guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution, as reported by Al Jazeera.
The report states that the ruling happened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to make biometric cards mandatory was challenged.
The biometric ID cards, also known as “Aadhaar,” are meant to record the finger prints and personal details of more than one billion citizens.
It further generates and assigns each a random 12-digit number, their new identification number meant for accessing certain services.
According to Al Jazeera, the system was meant to streamline benefit payments to the people of India as well as reduce fraud cases that may result from identity theft.
However, in recent years, various financial institutions and companies began applying the use of Aadhaar, leading to more parties following suit.
As a result, the right of individuals to privacy was affected because the platforms in which they signed up for gathered information about them even when unnecessary.
Due to this, human rights activists and other stakeholders joined hands and filed a petition against the state at the country’s Supreme Court to ensure that indeed the citizens of India can enjoy a sense of privacy in their life.
As fate would have, the case was ruled in their favor, bringing into limbo the future of the Biometric system.
Other parties who welcomed the decision by the top court include the opposition, as they categorically stated that verdict is indeed to help protect the tenants of privacy and human dignity.
According to a Reuters report, the country’s top court nullified earlier court orders made in the years 1954 and 1962 that stated privacy is not a fundamental right.
But, of course, technology was not nearly as advanced during those times as it is today in the digital era.
However, the government of India is the worst affected.As the executive arm, the governmental departments expect to have the right to determine what to do with citizens—as it is their sole responsibility to protect them.
In some cases, the ones supporting the ruling would say that Aadhaar has far-reaching consequences to the life of an individual.
This is because the authorities can monitor the various activities done by anyone in the nation.
And for this reason, it is sufficient to rule that indeed citizens of the country should be entitled to their personal space and enjoy their private lives.
The situation got to a point where entities and companies alike wanted to have access to the Biometrics.
Because of this ruling, it is for sure that the system will be affected, and thus the legislative arm will need to come up with new measures to ensure activities are not brought to a halt.
For this reason, ABC News reports that the government will have to present sufficient evidence to convince the courts that making the system mandatory is not a violation of the privacy of over one billion citizens.
Reports indicate that during the implementation of the Biometric systems, the program was voluntary.
However, with time, authorities declared that it should become mandatory to ensure that the population can access specific services offered by the government, such filing tax returns in a bid to reduce cases of tax evasion or other forms of fraud to the government.
Apart from that, the Biometrics system will ensure that individuals engage in legitimate business, as the source of funds used to acquire goods and services can be traced to the origin.
This, in turn, would mean that people will steer clear of practices such as money laundering, corruption and other forms of “dirty” money.
During the court case, BBC reports that a government lawyers in his argument said that citizens have no absolute right over the institutions that are part of the executive arm.
Such sentiments mean that the government, through its relevant department, can choose to implement a directive—and for this reason, no one can question their decision to do so.
Therefore, it is justified to conclude that perhaps it is warranted for citizens to be concerned about the situation because as it may have far-reaching repercussions.
The main concerns are that the government may infringe on an individual’s rights in one way or the other, no matter the situation.
With India’s population of over one billion citizens, it is no doubt that indeed the country would wish to ensure some services such as Aadhaar is rolled out.
The real reason is that, as the only arm of government with bodies positioned under the Constitution to offer national identification documents of various types, then it is to the best of their interest to ensure that records of all parties are stored in a secure database, ready for access when the need arises.
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