New Delhi: To the questions swirling around the Aadhaar or national identity cards, the Supreme Court today added a new one -- if a homeless person doesn't have it, will he not exist for the government?
- Supreme Court hearing petition challenging validity of Aadhaar
- How can homeless person get Aadhaar card, says top court
- Court was hearing a case on night-shelters for homeless people
The court made the comments while hearing a case related not to the biometric identification system, but to night-shelters for homeless people across the country in the deepening winter chill.
"How can a homeless person get an Aadhaar card? If he doesn't have an Aadhaar card, he doesn't exist in the eyes of the government?" the judges questioned.
This was when a lawyer representing the Uttar Pradesh government remarked that "some sort of identification like an Aadhaar" can be used while admitting people into the shelters.
There are "other cards like the voter ID", the lawyer replied, and received another tart reminder.
"To get a voter I-card you need address proof. Where will one get address proof if he is homeless?" the court asked.
The court wanted to know how many people have Aadhaar in the country.
Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing in the case, said "90 crore people" had the cards that the government says must be linked to bank accounts, welfare schemes and mobile phones.
The exchange on Aadhaar comes at a time the court is hearing a petition challenging the validity of Aadhaar and the government is facing questions on data security after a journalist with The Tribune newspaper reported that she could access personal details of over a billion citizens for just Rs 500, paid through a digital wallet.
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court will begin final hearing from 17 January on the validity of Aadhaar.
UIDAI, the agency that oversees the world's largest biometric database, has issued new rules to address privacy concerns.