Ahead of SC verdict, Nandan Nilekani says Aadhaar should not be mandatory

Infosys co-founder and serial entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani says he would not mind if the Supreme Court rules Aadhaar as non-mandatory for citizens of the country.

“I am perfectly fine if that (if SC makes it non-mandatory) happens,” said Nandan Nilekani in an interview to New18 tv.

This is in contrast to what the government stand has been on the Aadhaar.

The 12-digit unique identity number has time and again found itself at the receiving end over privacy concerns. It has been at the centre of debate for various plans by states and central government to link the system with many services such as bank accounts, sim cards and insurance plans.

Talking about Aadhaar data being misused and used as state surveillance, he said “Aadhaar as a surveillance state is an over-inflated fear. It is by definition does not collect data. Aadhaar is used for authentication only a few times a year.”

If India were to be a surveillance state, the state would have several techniques to collect data of individuals from various sources but not Aadhaar. If you want to do surveillance, just use your mobile phone. Since everybody carries mobile phone 24/7 and locations are on, he reasoned.

Besides, in Feb this year, the government had roped in tech billionaire to help them in developing IT infrastructure for the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), which seeks to cover 10-crore families.

Earlier in January, after receiving flak over Aadhaar, he wrote, Aadhaar is not a surveillance tool by the state, on the contrary, it is an assertion of your individual identity vis-à-vis the state.

Meanwhile, Nilekani said the real use of Aadhaar would be, to be used for delivering online benefits and innovations.

Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number for Indians, based on their biometric and demographic data that acts as identification and address proof. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

It is a mandatory requirement for most of the purposes.

The government is planning to use Aadhaar in many more projects. It has been issued to 121.65 crore people. It is planning to use it in National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) claimed to be the world’s largest health cover, to weed out fake treatment.

However, there are numbers of instances of Aadhaar data breach reports.

In May, the apex court reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. In March, it indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones, tatkal passports and for opening bank accounts till it pronounces its final verdict on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

The petitioners had challenged the mandatory plea of Aadhaar, terming it as a stark violation of citizen’s fundamental right to privacy.

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