Allahabad HC Seeks State Govt’s Reply In Plea Against Facial Recognition Of University Staff For Recording Attendance

Allahabad HC Seeks State Govt’s Reply In Plea Against Facial Recognition Of University Staff For Recording Attendance

The Allahabad High Court has sought a reply from the Uttar Pradesh government in a plea filed by an employee of the Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur against the Chancellor’s order mandating the use of biometrics for recording attendance of teaching and non-teaching staff.

The plea alleged that taking bio-metrics to the extent of facial recognition would impinge upon the right of privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and it would also expose the incumbent to leakage of employees’ personal data.

Stating that the matter requires consideration, the bench of Justices Manoj Misra and Mohd. Azhar Husain Idrisi allowed three weeks’ time for the State government, the University administration, and the Higher Education Department, of the Government of Uttar Pradesh to file their respective counter-affidavits in the matter.

Dr. Suvijna Awasthi, the petitioner, moved the high court challenging the order dated March 18, 2022, issued by the chancellor of the University which mandated the use of bio-metrics of the University staff for recording their attendance and payment of salary.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted before the court that though the right to privacy is not an absolute right but the law which encroaches upon privacy will have to withstand the touchstone of permissible restrictions on fundamental rights. |

Firstly, there must be a law impinging upon the right of privacy; secondly, the law must serve legitimate State aim; and thirdly, the law must be proportional which ensures a rational nexus between the objects and the means adopted to achieve them, he contended.

In this regard, he placed reliance on paragraph 325 of the decision of the Apex Court in K.S. Puttaswamy Vs. Union of India (2017).

He further argued that the decision to impose the use of biometrics for recording attendance had no backing of the law and otherwise also, the measures adopted were not proportional.

Moreover, he apprised the court that the University had been given the liberty to engage a private firm to enable the recording of attendance by use of such bio-metrics and contended that it endangered the security of the bio-metrics profiles.

On the other hand, the counsel for the University and the Education Department informed that the concerned procedure had been implemented and is currently in vogue. He further submitted that except for the petitioner, other teachers and staff had raised no objection to such a procedure, and therefore, it was not a case for an ex-parte interim order to be granted.

Considering the same, the court sought a reply from the respondents and posted the matter on November 15, 2022, for further hearing.

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