Supreme Court rejects plea to link Aadhaar to social media accounts, says let Madras HC decide

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a fresh public interest litigation seeking linking the 12-digit Aadhaar number to social media accounts, asking the petitioner to approach Madras High Court.

“Everything doesn’t need to come to the SC. This issue is before the Madras HC, you go there,” the top court said. The SC was responding to lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay’s latest PIL.

The Madras High Court is hearing two petitions for linking Aadhaar to social media accounts. The high court has said that Aadhaar would not be linked but expanded the scope of the petitions to look at traceability of messages.

Similar petitions to link Aadhaar have also been filed in the Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts.

Facebook Inc on its part has sought the transfer of petitions from various high courts to the Supreme Court. It has said in its petition that cases have been filed in the Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh high courts, noting that they have a common objective.

The petitions should be clubbed and heard by the top court, the company has prayed before the court, seeking to forestall potential conflicting verdicts.

Facebook is also aggrieved by the fact that the Madras high court has expanded the scope of the petition to consider such issues as online abuse and fake news being circulated on social media, and is looking to define the liabilities of the intermediaries.

Last month, the Supreme Court while hearing Facebook’s petition had given the Centre three weeks to submit details of its progress in coming up with regulations to prevent misuse of social media, while protecting the privacy of individuals.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta had informed the court about the Centre’s endeavour to regulate the intermediaries on this front. He said the ministry of information and technology was in the process of framing regulations and it was not possible to state how much time would be taken to finalise it.

Attorney general KK Venugopal, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, had opposed the transfer petitions and once again attacked the companies for circumventing the hearing before the high court. He said the top court must give the HC a chance to determine the issue.

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