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Supreme Court updates: Aadhaar is giant electronic leash, will cause death of citizen's rights, says petitioner in court

A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will hear some extremely important cases beginning Wednesday, including those on Aadhaar and the validity of Section 377.

FP Staff January 17, 2018 10:00:08 IST
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Supreme Court updates: Aadhaar is giant electronic leash, will cause death of citizen's rights, says petitioner in court

Highlights

11:03 (ist)

Main arguments before the court

Livelaw reported that the petitioners argue that details for Aadhaar are collected by private contractors and NGOs hired by UIDAI without any safeguard. This makes them prone to misuse. They claimed that empirical research shows that the biometric identification denoted for UID, namely the the iris scan and fingerprint identification, is faulty and is could be abused.

10:50 (ist)

#AadharMythBuster being used on Twitter to promote Aadhaar

Union ministers including Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajyavardhan Rathore are using #AadharMythBuster to extol the virtues of Aadhaar.

Some policy experts are not impressed with those efforts.

10:15 (ist)

Group of private companies bat for use of Aadhaar for eKYC and background verification process

According to an Economic Times report, a petition has been filed by the Digital Lenders Association of India (DLAI) which comprises startups such as CapitalFloat, LendingKart, ZestMoney, IndiaLends as well as early-stage investment firms and companies which provide authentication services and background verifications. These companies are particularly appealing to ensure advantages such as eKYC offered by Aadhaar help a lot in real-time verification of customers.

Legally speaking, the petition is being termed as an 'intervention application' which has yet to be accepted by the SC. There is no clarity on when it will be heard according to legal experts who have spoken to ET.

09:57 (ist)

'Aadhaar: Enabling a form of supersurveillance', argues Suhrith Parthasarathy

Suhrith Parthasarathy argues in The Hindu that the government will, no doubt, argue that Aadhaar can bring about many benefits. However any policy, howsoever poorly framed, will likely bring about certain gains. The question is ultimately one of proportionality and justice. Arguing that the government's aim is to create a seamless police state, which will chill our freedom and give the State rampant power he asks whether the Supreme Court will dare to stop this.

09:12 (ist)

'Aadhaar is an evolving endeavour and UIDAI responsive to public concerns', argues Nandan Nilekani

In an article in the Hindustan Times, Nandan Nilekani argues that the concern about the ‘linking’ of Aadhaar to various services are over-hyped and baseless.

He goes on to insist that we should "applaud the UIDAI for being responsive to the concerns of the public. We need to recognise that providing a unique, secure identification, with instant authentication anywhere, to 1.3 billion Indians is an evolving endeavour."

08:53 (ist)

Developments in Bofors case could affect Loya case

The Supreme Court made certain observations in the Bofors case regarding who can file a case in criminal matters, reported The Times of India. This could have an effect on the Loya case as all the PILs in the case have been filed by advocate associations or individuals who had no connection with the judge.

08:17 (ist)

RECAP: Judge Loya died due to 'heart attack', no cause for suspicion, says Nagpur Police

The Nagpur Police on Tuesday said that there was no cause for suspicion regarding the death of judge Loya and that he had indeed died of a heart attack.

"Nagpur Police undertook a thorough investigation in this case and his death was due to a heart attack", Shivaji Bodkhe, Joint Commissioner of Police, Nagpur told reporters. "The postmortem, as well as the forensic reports too, confirm the same. There was nothing unusual in the report," he said.

08:12 (ist)

RECAP: Prashant Bhushan files complaint against CJI Dipak Misra, requests five senior judges to conduct inquiry

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Tuesday said he had filed a complaint against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in the medical college scam case and requested five senior most apex court judges, including the four rebel judges, to hold an in-house inquiry into the matter.

11:29 (ist)

The arguments in the petition

BR Lone's petition sought a probe saying there were several contradictions emerging in the matter, according to The Indian Express. Tehseen Poonawala, in his plea contended that circumstances of the death of the judge were “questionable, mysterious and contradicting”.

13:26 (ist)

Why drag Justice Loya case into this, asks BCI chief

"Why drag the Judge Loya case into this? As you can see, Judge Loya's family has said that they do not have any doubts on the matter," says BCI chief Manan Kumar Misra.

The family of Justice BH Loya on Sunday said the death of the special CBI judge, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh "fake encounter" case, was being politicised and urged all parties to refrain from taking advantage of the situation.

Justice Loya’s son, Anuj, said he did not have any doubts about the way his father died three years ago. "I had an emotional turmoil, hence I had suspicions about his death. But now we don't have any doubts about the way he died," he told reporters at a press conference.

12:58 (ist)

RECAP: Absolute powers of Chief Justice of India need to be checked, says SC lawyer

Advocate Gautam Bhatia, in a series of tweets, said on Friday that in the last 20 years, the office of the Chief Justice of India has received a lot of power without having any system of accountability to keep it in check.


Bhatia argued that two features in the Indian legal system — "the splitting up of the Supreme Court into multiple different benches, and the massive backlog of cases" — make these powers problematic. "In this context, the Chief Justice's powers to assign cases to benches and to decide when a case is to be heard become very significant," he said in one tweet.

"The Chief Justice's administrative power effectively transform itself into a power to significantly influence the outcomes of cases (sic)," Bhatia further said.

12:43 (ist)

RECAP: Yashwant Sinha lauds rebel SC judges, says Cabinet ministers should also speak up without fear

Sinha said "if four senior most Supreme Court judges say democracy is under threat, we have to take their words very seriously""

"Every citizen who feels for democracy should speak up. I will ask party (BJP) leaders and senior cabinet ministers to speak up. I will appeal to them to get rid of their fears and speak up," he said.

Sinha, however, insisted that it was for the apex court to sort out the crisis after the four senior judges virtually revolted against the country's chief justice on Friday, raising questions on "selective" case allocation and certain judicial orders.

12:35 (ist)

Four former retired justices write open letter

An open letter by former apex court judge PB Sawant, ex-chief justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah, former Madras High Court judge K Chandru and ex-Bombay High Court judge H Suresh was given to the media. It has also gone viral on social media.

Justice Shah confirmed having written an open letter along with the other retired judges and told PTI, "We have written the open letter which the other judges named in the letter have also consented to."

He said that the view expressed by the retired judges is "quite similar to the views of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) that till this crisis is resolved, the important matters should be listed before a five-judge Constitution bench of senior judges".

10:53 (ist)

Bobde emerging as a peacekeeper, says report

According to a News18 report, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde is brokering peace between Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on one side and four other senior-most judges – Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – on the other.

10:22 (ist)

RECAP: Congress claims 'Democracy is in danger'

The Congress said "democracy is in danger" after four senior-most Supreme Court judges came out in the open to say that the situation in the apex court was "not in order".

"We are very concerned to hear 4 judges of the Supreme Court expressed concerns about the functioning of the Supreme Court. #DemocracyInDanger," the Congress' official Twitter handle said.

10:14 (ist)

All you need to know about controversial RP Luthra case

The RP Luthra case is at the centre of the whole fiasco. To convey the "less than desirable" things taking place inside the apex court, the four justices referred to a letter that they had written to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The letter mentions an order passed in the case RP Luthra vs Union Of India Ministry Of Law And Another respondents passed on 27 October. What does the order in the RP Luthra case say that made the four justices speak publicly against the CJI?

Based on the letter to the CJI, the four justices made public on Friday, it seems clear that the main point of contention at present is the delay in implementing the Memorandum of Procedure towards the appointment of judges in India. "...there should be no further delay in finalisation of MOP in larger public interest," the SC order in the Luthra case had said and was reiterated by the four judges as well in their letter to the CJI.

10:00 (ist)

Is Caste an issue in Supreme Court?

Of frequent reference is also the case of caste. It is argued that the judiciary, populated by as much as 95 percent of its constituency by individuals of the Brahmin caste, is Brahmanical. This criticism resurfaced in the defiance and subsequent punishment of Justice CS Karnan whose persecution, it is said, was about his caste. 

Read full report here. 

09:24 (ist)

'Super sensitive' cases handled by junior judges in past

According to The Times of India, there have been fifteen 'super sensitive' cases which have been handled by junior judges and not the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. These cases include Bofors, Rajiv Gandhi assassination, LK Advani's trial in Babri masjid demolition, Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter, Best Bakery and the case that changed how BCCI, reported the publication. 

09:19 (ist)

The Supreme Court crisis was waiting to happen

For those who have access to portals of the Supreme Court, the spectacle of four of its senior most judges raising the banner of revolt against their Chief Justice did not come as a surprise, but rather a conspiracy to alter the course of history.

“It was brewing for some time” is the general refrain if you talk to anyone conversant with what is going on. Letters were being secretly written to judges and circulating, pointing out skeletons in cupboards hidden from public view. Insinuation and innuendo over the formation of benches on certain issues of critical economic and political importance were the order of the day.

And there were all indications that there was something stinking in the corridors of the Supreme Court, to borrow a phrase from Justice Markandey Katju (he was referring to the Allahabad High Court). All this was exposed in a jiffy as the judges pointed fingers at CJI’s alleged indiscretion in allocating cases to benches and his other administrative functioning.

Read the full analysis here. 

16:45 (ist)

Attorney General KK Venugopal hopes crisis will be 'settled' soon

Attorney General KK Venugopal expressed the hope that the crisis in the top judiciary following a revolt by four Supreme Court judges would be "settled".

"Let's hope everything works out very well. I am sure everything will be settled," he told reporters in New Delhi.

13:17 (ist)

'Holding presser for minor issue of roster is saddening': Bar Council of India chairman, Manan Mishra

According to ANI, chairman of Bar Council of India Manan Kumar Mishra criticised the four Supreme Court judges for holding a press conference on Friday. "Holding a press conference on a minor issue of roster is saddening," he said.

Mishra further added that Bar Council is set to have a meeting at 5 pm on Saturday and meet the four senior judges on Sunday. "We have a meeting at 5 pm today (Saturday). Tomorrow (Sunday) our delegation will meet those senior judges, Chief Justice of India and other judges and request them to not bring issues like these in front of public," he said. 

09:42 (ist)

Former ASG Vikas Singh says judges' press conference was not planned, should have said something 'substantial'

Speaking to ANIformer additional solicitor general of India and the Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh said, "If they had to come for a press conference, then they should have said something substantial. Just creating doubts in the minds of people will not serve the interest of the judiciary. This was not properly planned. They didn't say anything about Justice Loya."

18:52 (ist)

Explainer: What is a Supreme Court roster that the dissenting judges had objections to?

In the early years of its existence, the SC had only 7 judges and they would all hear matters together. But as the court expanded and its workload increased, the Supreme Court became an institution with multiple benches. 

The record of the allotment of cases to benches is called the roster. The CJI is the first amongst equals at the Supreme Court and his judgments carry no more weight than any other judge of the court. But the CJI does have more administrative powers, which includes control on the roster. This means it is up to the CJI to decide which set of judges hears which matters. 

A particular judge may have domain expertise in an area of law and therefore would be suitable for a particular matter while another judge may not. These decisions are often taken by the Chief Justice while assigning matters. While there is usually a system that is followed for most regular cases, when it comes to constituting special benches or assigning matters of constitutional import, the exercise of this power becomes as important as some of the decisions of the court itself.

13:52 (ist)

‘Chief Justice is only the first amongst the equals — nothing more or nothing less’

On Friday, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph addressed the media to highlight their grievances about how cases are allocated in the Supreme Court. Read the full text of the letter issued by the four Supreme Court judges

12:40 (ist)

Earlier clashes between CJI Dipak Misra and the other judges

Bar and Bench had detailed the clash which took place between the CJI and Justice Chelameswar in November in Kamini Jaiswal's petition.

12:35 (ist)

Chief Justice has been the subject of criticism

Senior Advocate and former president of the SC Bar Association Dushyant Dave in The Indian Express has pointed at serious issues in the constitution of benches and the allocation of work to such benches by the Chief Justice.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Jan 17, 2018 - 16:07 (IST)

Petitioners complete pre-act chronology: Day 1 of arguments over; hearing will resume tomorrow

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:59 (IST)

Meanwhile... Aadhaar tweets out 'myth busters' intermittently; claims banking, financial data not tracked via UIDAI

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:49 (IST)

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:47 (IST)

United Kingdom revoked it biometric database, petitioner tells SC

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:44 (IST)

Architecture that allows surveillance not permissible: Divan

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:31 (IST)

Justices AK Sikri and DY Chandrachud seek to know how is the Aadhaar biometrics system different from the biometrics for US Visa?

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:27 (IST)

Ensuring Aadhaar data is not misused not enough to grant it legality, petitioners argue in case

Justice Chandrachud asked that if the government ensures that Aadhaar data is used only for the purpose it is collected, will it address the concerns raised by the petitioners. To this the petitioner's lawyer replied that the design in itself is bad as it allows State domination. Shyam Divan further argued that the problem is not that whether the State is actually tracking its citizens or not but the fact that the Aadhaar makes it possible. 

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:13 (IST)

Aadhaar alters the relationship between the citizen and the State

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan today submitted in court that Aadhaar seems too alter the relationship between the citizen and the State, while diminishing the status of the citizen. All rights, a citizen could earlier freely assert have now been made part of a “compulsory barter”, averring, “The barter compels the citizen to give up his biometrics ‘voluntarily’, unless the number is seeded in databases of the service provider, the citizen is denied access to these most essential facilities. "Inalienable and natural rights are dependent on a compulsory exaction.”

As reported by Live and Law

Jan 17, 2018 - 15:05 (IST)

'People's Constitution is being sought to be converted into a State's Constitution'

Jan 17, 2018 - 14:54 (IST)

Aadhaar act cannot be used to deny basic amenities, rights or benefits, says petitioner's lawyer Shyam Divan 

Latest updates

The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has assembled to hear 29 pleas against Aadhaar among other important matters. The petitioners have started arguments.

The bench will hear some extremely important cases beginning Wednesday. The court will take up 29 pleas against Aadhaar. The final hearing on the pleas challenging Aadhaar comes five years since the first was filed.

Comprising CJI Dipak Misra, Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, the bench will take up eight crucial cases, including Aadhaar, the validity of Section 377 of IPC which criminalises homosexual acts, the validity of adultery law under the IPC, entry of women into Kerala's Sabarimala temple and other cases.

None of the four judges who spoke out against the CJI — Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice MB Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph — feature on the Constitution Bench.

According to an Economic Times report, a petition has been filed by the Digital Lenders Association of India (DLAI) which comprises startups such as CapitalFloat, LendingKart, ZestMoney, IndiaLends as well as early-stage investment firms and companies which provide authentication services and background verifications. These companies are particularly appealing to ensure advantages such as eKYC offered by Aadhaar help a lot in real-time verification of customers.

Loya's case: SC leaves it to Maha govt to hand over documents

The Supreme Court on Tuesday left it to the Maharashtra government to decide which documents, relating to the death of special CBI judge BH Loya, could be handed over to the petitioners who have sought an independent probe into it.

The state government, which filed documents in a sealed cover relating to Loya's death, had during the hearing opposed the petitioners' demand that the entire material should be handed over to them for perusal.

Supreme Court updates Aadhaar is giant electronic leash will cause death of citizens rights says petitioner in court

Representational image. AP

The apex court, in its order which was uploaded on its website late in the evening, said, "Let the documents be placed on record within seven days and if it is considered appropriate, copies be furnished to the petitioners. Put up before the appropriate bench".

After the order was uploaded, the standing counsel for Maharashtra said their team of lawyers, including senior advocate Harish Salve, would scan and verify all the documents in consultation with the concerned department and take a call on the issue of handing over the documents.

The case, whose assignment to the bench hearing the PILs was a bone of contention of the unprecedented press conference by the four senior-most judges of the apex court, came up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and MM Shantanagoudar.

CJI meets 4 rebel judges, they too meet on their own

The dissenting judges of the Supreme Court, who had hurled accusations against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on several issues, on Tuesday met among themselves, amid hectic parleys between other judges to resolve the crisis.

Their meeting came hours after the CJI reached out to them at the apex court lounge and held parleys with them over tea, before starting the day's proceedings in the apex court.

It is learnt that Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph had a meeting but nothing concrete has emerged. The meeting in the evening took place at the residence of one of these judges.

However, the outcome of the deliberations is not known.

Sources said the judges are likely to meet the CJI tomorrow morning as usual and probably some more deliberations are on the cards as hectic parleys are on to restore normalcy in the top court's functioning.

"As of now, nothing concrete has emerged," sources close to the four judges said.

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