A couple of hours after UIDAI CEO said “Aadhaar is for empowerment, not Big Brother” – a light-hearted comment directed at people questioning the credibility of Aadhaar card, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday admitted that Aadhaar data leak can influence the outcome of an election. UIDAI, governing body of the under-fire Aadhaar, has been relentlessly defending the credibility of the card amid the massive revelations that have been made against it in the past.

A five-judge bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud heard a string of 27 petitions questioning the validity of Aadhaar, privacy issues surrounding it and data leak. Justice Chandrachud said, “The real apprehension is the data available can influence the electoral outcome of a country… whether democracy can survive if Aadhaar data is used to influence the electoral outcome.”

The Supreme Court bench said that the problems regarding the Aadhaar are not “symptomatic but real”. It also asked the UIDAI about the measures taken to protect and safeguard the data of individuals in the absence of data protection law. The apex court gave a stern telling off to the UIDAI authorities saying, “We can’t have a blinkered view of reality, because we are going to lay down a law which will affect the future”.

The counsel of UIDAI after the court hearing hinted that a conspiracy theory may be behind the attempts to bring down Aadhaar. Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi claimed that the petitioners want a smart card to replace the Aadhaar card as they see it more credible. “They want the smart card because institutions like Google don’t want Aadhaar to succeed,” he added.

Earlier last week, the top court had expressed its concern over the personal information of 1.3 billion Indians that Aadhaar authorities possess. UIDAI retaliated to the court saying “Aadhaar data is not an atom bomb”.

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