India’s ambitious plans to force its 1.3 billion citizens to use biometric identity cards to access government benefits have fallen foul of the country’s highest court which says the project could undermine rights to privacy.
After finding that the biometric ID, referred to as Aadhaar ID, infringes on the right to privacy, the Supreme Court decided that the issue was a constitutional matter and therefore should be resolved by a ‘constitution bench’. Benches have at least five judges interpreting substantial matters that impinge on India’s constitution. The court has appointed to hear this month petitions filed against the Aadhaar scheme by a number of individuals and groups. The bench’s decision will likely decide the future of what has evolved into the world’s largest biometric database.
Meanwhile, following the Court’s intervention, the government last week (December 8) issued orders extending a yearend deadline for citizens to link their biometric ID numbers to income tax returns, bank accounts and other services until March 31, 2018.