SC seeks AG’s assistance on UIDAI move to to neutralise negative sentiments

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought assistance of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal in the hearing of a petition by a Trinmool Congress leader questioning the move by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to create a social media wing to identify “top detractors” and “neutralise negative sentiments” in relation to Aadhaar.

Directing the listing of the matter on September 11, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar ande Justice D.Y. Chandrachud sought the assistance of Attorney General K.K.Venugopal. The court recalled that government had aborted the similar attempt earlier to create social media hub under the I&B Ministry.

Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for TMC lawmaker in he West Bengal asembly Mauha Moitra told the bench that it was a new move, prompting the bench to observe that what they could not do directly was sought to be done indirectly.

Last month the Centre abandoned its plan to set up a Social Media Communication Hub (SMCH) to track and monitor these platforms to identify “buzz creators” in all the districts across the country.

In the hearing of the earlier plea of Moitra on July 13, Justice Chandrachud had said, “If every tweet, WhatsApp (message) is monitored, we’ll be moving towards a surveillance state.”

“Despite the fact that the constitutional validity of the entire Aadhaar scheme is under challenge and its fate is to be decided by the top court, the respondents have issued the impugned RFP (request for proposal) to identify “top detractors” and “neutralise negative sentiments” the petitionA by Moitra said.

Moitra has claimed that the RFP has sought offers from those who had the capability to listen in and “identify problematic online conversations” and “neutralise negative sentiments”.

“It is therefore clear that the respondents have no respect or regard for the proceedings before this court”, the petition says that it amounts to infringement of the right to privacy of an individual.