Wife can’t unilaterally access spouse’s UID information: High court
The couple in question had exchanged vows in November 2005, and over the years, they welcomed a daughter into their lives. However, as time passed, their relationship encountered significant challenges, leading to strains and ultimately prompting legal action. Faced with difficulties in their marriage, the wife took the initiative to initiate legal proceedings.
In the aftermath of the legal process, the family court ruled in her favor, granting her a maintenance amount of Rs 10,000. Additionally, the court recognized the financial responsibility towards their daughter, awarding an extra Rs 5,000 for her well-being. Despite the court’s decision, enforcing the order proved to be a daunting task due to the husband’s elusive whereabouts; he was reportedly on the run.
Frustrated by the difficulties in executing the family court’s judgment, the wife sought assistance from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Her application, however, faced an unexpected setback when it was rejected on February 25, 2021. The rejection was based on various grounds, including the requirement for a decision by a high court judge as per Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act.
This turn of events added another layer of complexity to the woman’s pursuit of justice and financial support. The rejection from UIDAI meant that she had to navigate the legal system further, potentially involving a high court judge to address the issues surrounding the Aadhaar application.
The rejection by UIDAI not only prolonged the process but also highlighted the intricate intersections between personal relationships, legal battles, and bureaucratic procedures. The woman found herself caught in a web of challenges, seeking resolution not only in family court decisions but also in navigating the intricate web of legal requirements posed by government agencies. The story underscores the complexities that individuals may face when attempting to enforce legal decisions in the context of personal and family matters.
In the subsequent legal proceedings, the woman, seeking relief, approached a single bench. To her satisfaction, on February 8, 2023, the single bench delivered a favorable decision. The single bench directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to issue a notice to the woman’s husband. This notice served as a formal communication, alerting the husband about the legal proceedings initiated by his estranged wife. Consequently, UIDAI, the agency responsible for issuing Aadhaar cards based on personal data, was prompted to contest the order.
However, in response to UIDAI’s contestation, the division bench intervened, providing further instructions. The division bench directed UIDAI to afford the husband an opportunity to present his case. This step was crucial in ensuring a fair and comprehensive consideration of the matter. Following this, the division bench instructed UIDAI to reconsider the woman’s application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The woman argued that marriage implies a merging of identities, justifying her access to her spouse’s information, including his Aadhaar details. However, the division bench, in its decision, referred to the observations made by the Supreme Court. It underscored the importance of an individual’s right to present their case before any disclosure of personal information is made.
This legal development highlights the nuanced nature of privacy rights within marital relationships and the need for a careful balance between the right to access information for legitimate purposes and the fundamental right to privacy. The court’s decision emphasizes the significance of fair procedures and adherence to legal principles in matters involving personal data and privacy rights.
The division bench, in its statement, firmly asserted that the institution of marriage, being a union of two partners, does not override the inherent right to privacy. The right to privacy is an individual’s entitlement, and the autonomy of this right is both recognized and protected by the procedural safeguards outlined under Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act. The court emphasized that the act of marriage itself does not negate or eliminate the procedural right of hearing enshrined in Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act.
Quoting the specific section of the Aadhaar Act, the bench highlighted that the right to be heard is a crucial component of the legal process concerning Aadhaar information. It declared that marriage does not diminish this procedural right, and individuals involved in marital relationships maintain their right to a fair hearing as per the statutory provisions.
The High Court, in its determination, underscored that the decision-making process under Section 33 is a non-delegable duty, emphasizing the importance of ensuring a fair and just procedure when it comes to matters involving access to Aadhaar information.
Consequently, the division bench remitted the matter back to the single bench for fresh consideration. This decision indicates a commitment to upholding individual privacy rights within the legal framework, affirming the significance of due process and the right to be heard in matters related to Aadhaar data access, even in the context of marital relationships.