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Dharani land records portal issue: Telangana HC extends interim stay on gathering Aadhaar, caste details

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The Telangana High Court extended the interim stay that was issued in the past in regards to the collection of personal details for uploading on the Dharani land records portal till September, Saaketh Kasibhatla, an advocate and one of the petitioners in the case told MediaNama. The next hearing of the case is on September 8, 2021.

The High Court on November 2020, issued interim orders prohibiting the State Government from collecting Aadhaar and caste details via-a-vis agricultural property owners and collection of personal details vis-a-vis non-agricultural property owners for registration at Dharani Portal, Kasibhatla added.

A bench comprising of Telangana High Court Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy on Monday resumed the hearing of two PILs filed by advocates, Kasibhatla and Gopal Sharma challenging the State’s decision to collect personal details of landowners such as Aadhaar and upload them on a domain like Dharani. The order for Monday’s proceedings is still not available on the court’s website, as of June 22 afternoon.

While the petitioners contend that the State was collecting personal details without any legislative support, the State government through its advocate general BS Prasad claim that the policy has the backing of the Aadhar Act, under Section 7, in lieu of the Rythu Bandhu, an agricultural investment support scheme of the Telangana government.

Prasad, was quoted by Times of India, as saying, “Our Rythu Bandhu scheme is reaching lakhs of farmers and we are entitled to collect Aadhaar particulars from farmers. We have filed a counter to the contentions raised in these petitions. As far as non-agricultural properties are concerned, the State government is deliberating on the issue.”

Prasad also said that for non-agricultural properties, registration is taking place through the old computer-aided administration of registration department mode — where the details such as Aadhar is not sought.

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The issue regarding Dharani portal

  • In October 2020, when the State government first mooted the Dharani Portal platform, concerns of privacy were raised by activists after it was learnt that the State government was taking out a survey for the platform, wherein sensitive details such as Aadhar number, the caste of property holders were being sought.
  • On November 2o20, the Telangana High Court while taking up petitions regarding the matter, told the government that it cannot insist on collecting Aadhaar and caste details from property owners through its Dharani land records portal. The court’s order, flagged the use of Aadhaar for purposes not involving welfare schemes, and for the complete absence of provisions to ensure data security. The two-judge bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan, held that the government’s mandate was violative of the right to privacy, as established in the Puttaswamy judgement
  • In December, the High Court said that the Telangana government can resume non-agricultural property registrations in the old procedure as long as it does not collect Aadhar and caste details of owners and their family members.

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