Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has issued notice to government Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for seeking personal information and Aadhaar details of employees of the distributors without legal backing for the same, Legal news portal barandbench.com reported.
Notice has been issued to OMCs like Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation, among others.
Besides Aadhaar details, the said OMCs also sought sensitive information regarding religion, caste, constituency, disability if any, household income, and bank details of the employees of the distributors.
All the employees of distributor companies, right from delivery boys to mechanics and showroom staff, were brought within the ambit of this demand and the said information was sought in the name of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
Contending that this action in the name of RPL is violative of the fundamental right to privacy of those employed by the distributor companies, a petition was filed before the Gujarat High Court by multiple distributors.
The petitioners, who were represented by Senior Advocates Mihir Thakore and Percy Kavina, submitted that this demand of information in the name of RPL is not only without any legal backing, but also violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
Terming this demand of the OMCs as “illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and high handed”, the petitioners have also submitted that it goes against the principles laid down by the nine-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the Justice KS Puttaswamy judgment which held the right to privacy to be a fundamental right.
The judgment of the five-Judge Constitution Bench that examined the validity of Aadhaar scheme is also violated by this want of information, claim the petitioners.
“[T]hat RPL also fails the test of proportionality as laid down by the Hon. Supreme Court, inasmuch, in this case the Petitioners are not seeking any benefit from the State at all. Rather, the State wants to compel the Petitioners to part with their personal information by mandatory enrolment under RPL.
… It is pertinent to note that both the Hon’ble Constitution Benches held that such details including Aadhaar cannot be mandatorily sought, even under a contract, without the same being backed by law.”
The respondent companies allegedly even issued threats of stopping LPG loads to those distributors who refuse to furnish the details sought.
The petitioners, therefore, prayed for this directive of the respondents to be quashed, and till the case is disposed of, stayed. They have also asked the Court to direct the respondents to delete the data collected thus far.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Bela M Trivedi has issued notice to the respondents returnable on December 1.