Central government today asserted that the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution under the article 21 are not absolute rights as these are subjected to reasonable restrictions in the constitutional scheme of things itself. Defending the provisions of Aadhaar Act that allows the government to capture and use bio-metric data of citizens the government said its laws were compliant with the tests laid down by the court judgement.
While welcoming the decision that has caused uncertainty over the fate of Aadhaar Act as the top court will use it to test the validity of various provisions of Aadhaar Act the government said:
“The judgement reads that personal liberty is not an absolute right but liable to the restrictions which will be examined by case to case basis.”
In order to explain the point further, the official statement carried a quote from the speech of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made in the Rajya Sabha during the debate on the Aadhaar Bill on 16th March 2016.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had told the Rajya Sabha:
“The underlying point is that privacy is not an absolute right. It is a right even in our Constitution. If it is a Fundamental Right under Article 21, which is subject to restriction that it can be restricted by a procedure established by law, that procedure established by law obviously has to be fair, just and reasonable procedure.”
Obviously, the government sees a ray of hope as the various provisions of Aadhaar Act and Income Tax Act are meant to eliminate bogus beneficiaries and instances of tax evasion as the court might endorse them given their utility in absolute verification of a beneficiary or tax payer’s identity.
The government also asserted its right to use this provision of ‘reasonable restrictions’ for national security and leakage of social welfare benefits.
Citing from the judgement, the government said that as per the court order it required a careful and sensitive balance between individual interests and legitimate concerns of the State.
The court has listed five such legitimate aims in its order – national security, prevention and investigation of crime, innovation and the spread of knowledge, and stopping the leakage of social welfare benefits.
In a clear indication of its intention to use these provisions for various national security objectives and to continue with its anti-leakage measures in various social welfare schemes the Government said it was committed to this object.