Hyderabad, November 3: The Telangana High Court on Tuesday instructed State government not to insist that people give details of their Aadhaar card and non-agricultural properties during the ongoing collection of details for Dharani portal.

A bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy also directed the government to stop uploading of these details in Dharani portal. Issuing the instructions after hearing contentions in three PIL petitions, the bench directed the government to file counter-affidavit by November 17, The Hindu reported.

The bench noted that prima facie the government’s decision to gather details of citizens’ Aadhaar card, caste and properties to post on Dharani portal was not backed by any statute. “The information kept in public domain, if accessed by third party, will violate the right to privacy which will be an irreparable loss to persons whose information is fed in Dharani portal,” the bench observed.

The government had not come out clearly about the steps taken to safeguard such crucial data of citizens, the bench noted. “It is a scary thing if a third party has access to the property details of people,” the bench said. Only in case of welfare schemes, the government can insist for Aadhar details of a citizen, the bench said citing the Supreme Court verdict.

The apex court made it clear earlier that caste details of a person should not be sought except in matters relating to extending benefits, the bench said. How can the State government ask for such information from its citizens, the Chief Justice said.

Senior counsel Desai Prakas Reddy, appearing for one of the PIL petitioners, questioned how can the government seek Aadhaar details for Dharani portal when it was not backed by any law. There was no transparency in the government action vis-a-vis Dharani portal barring the oral statement made by the Chief Minister.

Advocate General B.S. Prasad, presenting contentions of State government, said Dharani portal was part of extending better governance to people. Firewalls were put in place to ensure mischief mongers did not tinker with the records and access the crucial information of citizens. Uploading details of people’s properties in Dharani portal was to come out with robust Revenue laws and administration while extending welfare schemes to the needed citizens, he said.

The CJ, citing an English daily’s report that Dharani portal was hacked, said it looked like the government had not taken adequate measures to protect people’s data. The report said there were four other software applications akin to Dharani portal available in Google Playstore and this was creating confusion among the citizens, he said.

The pleas would be heard again on November 20.


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