A writ petition has been filed before the Delhi High Court by Prof. Shamnad Basheer, our managing trustee, alleging violation of right to privacy and bringing to light the various data breaches in relation to the Aadhaar project. In light of these breaches, the Petition, inter alia, prays for a court appointed independent investigative/audit committee, to look into all the security and privacy breaches of the Aadhaar database till date. The Petition also throws some interesting insight into the possible options that an aggrieved Aadhaar holder may pursue given the exclusive right of UIDAI to bring legal actions under Section 47 of the Aadhaar Act. Using a mix of constitutional and common law remedies, the Petition asserts that security breaches entitle the Petitioner to claim for damages.
The Petition, which came up for hearing before a Division Bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Chander Shekhar, has been posted to August 21, 2018, with liberty being given to the Petitioner to approach the court in case of any urgency. The Hon’ble Bench noted that it would await the judgment of the Apex Court in Justice (Retd.) KS Puttaswamy and Anr. v Union of India and Ors. (WP No (C). 494 of 2012 and connected cases) in the meanwhile.
Prof. Basheer was represented pro-bono by a team led by eminent criminal lawyer Siddharth Aggarwal, who was briefed by lawyers, Rupali Samuel, Jhanvi Dubey and Sidddharth Sajita. The IDIA team, which assisted in the petition, consisted of Public interest fellow, Balu Nair, along with IDIA volunteers Anmol Malhotra, Ankit Yadav, Shilpa Prasad, Vinoothna Vinjam and IDIA scholar Donnie Ashok.
Update 1: On August 21, 2018, a Division Bench comprising Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Anu Malhotra issued notice requiring the Respondents to file their response within six weeks. The matter has now been posted to November 19, 2018.
Update 2: On November 19, 2018, a Division Bench comprising Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Prateek Jalan granted the Respondents four more weeks time to file their response. The matter has now been posted to February 14, 2019.
Update 3: UIDAI (Respondent No. 1) filed its Counter Affidavit on February 13, 2019. At the hearing on February 14, 2019, the Petitioner sought time for filing a Rejoinder and the division bench of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Prateek Jalan posted the matter to May 21, 2019.
Update 4: On May 20, 2019, the Petitioner filed the Rejoinder to the Counter Affidavit filed by UIDAI. At the hearing on May 21, 2019, a Division Bench comprising Justice G.S. Sistani and Justice Jyoti Singh granted UIDAI (Respondent No. 1) four weeks time to file their rejoinder and a period of six weeks to NIC (Respondent No. 3) to file its Counter Affidavit. The matter has now been posted to August 30, 2019.
More details relating to the Petition may be found on the following links:
- Shamnad Basheer Moves Delhi HC Against Aadhaar Data Leak; Demands Exemplary Damages (LiveLaw)
- “Grass seemed greener on the Aadhaar side, I got taken for a ride” Prof. Shamnad Basheer to Delhi HC (Bar and Bench)
- Shamnad Basheer files PIL seeking ‘exemplary damages’ for Aadhaar Data Leaks (MediaNama)
- Infosys Prize Winner Seeks Exemplary Damages for Aadhaar Leaks (Aadhaar Fail)
- Delhi HC Issues Notice on Prof. Shamnad Basheer’s Petition Seeking Exemplary Damages for Aadhaar Data Leak (LiveLaw)
- Delhi HC gives UIDAI a 4 Week Extension in Damages due to Aadhaar Data Breach Case (MediaNama)
- Aadhaar Data Breach Report Incorrect: HC Told (Mint)
- Aadhaar PIL in Delhi HC: Shamnad Basheer Calls for Committee to Ascertain Extent of Aadhaar Data Breaches (MediaNama)