Consider compensating starvation death victims: Petitioners to SC
New Delhi: Former Karnataka High Court judge on Thursday told the Supreme Court that several deaths have reportedly taken place due to starvation on account of glitches in the Aadhaar-based public distribution system and the court must consider granting them compensation.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was told by Justice K S Puttaswamy, who is the lead petitioner in a batch of cases challenging the Aadhaar and its enabling Act, that in violation of the top court's direction of limited use for welfare schemes, Aadhaar has been mandatorily linked to various schemes by the government.
The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, was told by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the retired judge, that starvation deaths have taken place in Jharkhand and some other states due to glitches in the Aadhaar-based public distribution system as ration was not given to the families.
He urged the bench to consider granting compensation to those who have suffered on the ground of exclusion due to Aadhaar, particularly the kin of the starvation death victims.
While concluding his submission, the senior lawyer also urged the court to extend the March 31 deadline fixed by it for mandatory Aadhaar linkage with bank accounts,
mobile phones and other services in view of the pendency of the challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.
He said the Aadhaar Act was illegal and violated the provisions of Constitution.
The top court will hear further arguments on challenge to Aadhaar on March 6.
Yesterday it had said that the Centre came out with the law in 2016 to negate the objection that it was collecting data since 2009 without any authorisation, but the issue which needed consideration was what will happen if the data collected earlier, have been compromised.
Subramanium had said that the law cannot cure defects like invasion of fundamental rights of citizens and invasion of privacy in this case was "complete once you unlawfully collected information. All this cannot be cured."
On the issue of making Aadhaar mandatory for the poor to avail facilities, he had said the State was making a "moral judgment on the poorest of the poor in saying they make ghost cards".
There are ways to detect and stop pilferages, he had said, adding that fake persons can be identified and action taken against them, but "do not
treat every person with indignity".
Earlier, the senior lawyer had said that the State cannot sit in judgement and rely only on biometric details to establish the identity of its citizens. "Virtual person cannot reduce the real person-hood," he had said, dubbing the Aadhaar Act as "unconstitutional".
The individual's rights always gets primacy over the rights of the State and moreover, the action of the government is needed to be tested "for substantive and procedural due process", he had said.