Appoint neutral ombudsman to serve as watchdog of Aadhaar system, HC told

New Delhi: A petitioner, who has filed a plea seeking exemplary damages for the losses caused due to leakage of Aadhaar data, told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that he is not challenging the Aadhaar Act but is pressing for the appointment of a neutral ombudsman to act as a watchdog for the system.

On February 14, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) told the court that reports regarding security breach of data related to Aadhaar are incorrect and misleading as the strongest encryption technology has been used to store data which is impossible to decrypt and sought dismissal of the plea.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by Shamnad Basheer alleging that the dissemination of personal information of Aadhaar holders made it clear that the government is responsible for any breach of right to informational privacy.

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Countering the government submission, Basheer has filed a rejoinder where he has stated that he is not challenging the Aadhaar Act.

“It is submitted that since the statutory mechanism presently in place does not address the above stated roles envisaged for the ombudsman, the need for the appointment of a neutral ombudsman continues to remain a pressing necessity,” Basheer said in his rejoinder.

He has highlighted the nature of the role which such an ombudsman could be asked to discharge.

“Chiefly, the role conceived for the ombudsman was to help aggrieved data subjects launch complaints in the first instance and help ascertain the existence and extent of breach so that the data subjects could thereafter effectively agitate for their rights,” Basheer said.

“It was also conceived that the ombudsman could serve as a neutral watchdog of the Aadhaar system.”

The court has listed the matter for further hearing on August 23.


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