The Government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that citizens of India cannot claim absolute right over their body parts and refuse to provide digital samples of their fingerprints and iris for Aadhaar card enrollment.
Attorney-General A K Rohatgi argued that,
The concept of absolute right over one’s body was a myth and there were various laws which put restrictions on such a right.
This assertion was a response to several petitions which were challenging the constitutional validity of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act. Section 139 AA of the said act makes it mandatory to mention Aadhaar card number while filing IT returns or applying for PAN card, starting from July 1 this year.
Rohatgi argued impressively, citing several examples from daily life. He contended that the right over own’s body is not absolute as the law prohibits people from committing suicide and does not allow women to abort during the later stages of pregnancy. He further added,
There is no absolute right over the body. If such a right existed then committing suicide would have been permitted and people would have been allowed to do whatever they wanted with their bodies. The right not to have bodily intrusion is not absolute, and the life of a person can also be taken away by following a due procedure of law. People cannot commit suicide and take drugs.
However, the Supreme Court Bench,comprising of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, told the Attorney-General that the examples cited by him cannot be applied here as the case pertains to taxation law and not offences. The bench also added that a balance has to be maintained between an individual’s rights and state’s actions.
The government has so far maintained that Aadhaar was not compulsory and it was purely upon the citizens to get themselves enrolled. Rohatgi argued that Sections 7 and 54 of the Aadhaar Act made it mandatory for people to get enrolled. He also added that Aadhaar was needed to curb tax evasion and keep a check on black money circulation.