Supreme Court Aadhaar verdict highlights: Court says Aadhaar linking is not mandatory for bank accounts and mobile phones, but a must for PAN. SC asks Centre to bring in data protection law soon.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar by a majority judgment. In its verdict, the court held it was not mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and mobile phones, but maintained that it was mandatory for filing income tax returns.
Apart from other concerns for the disabled, enrolment itself has been a major problem. Biometrics has been an issue. Even though there are provisions in the Aadhaar framework to use just one biometric for those with disabilities — either the iris or fingerprints — many centres and operators are either oblivious of this provision or are not adequately trained to handle this: Muralidharan, general secretary, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled.
This is a very progressive judgment. Aadhaar has helped in plugging leakages and improving efficiency. The direct benefit transfer scheme has helped the government in saving Rs 90,000 crore annually: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
Unique Identification Authority of India welcomes ‘historical’ and ‘landmark’ judgement of the Supreme Court on Aadhaar.
Nobody is defining technology. In fact, it is the UPA which appointed Nandan Nilekani and his team to design the technology. Who took it to things like school admissions, bank accounts, etc: P Chidambaram to ANI.
It’s a historic judgement. The Supreme Court has clearly said that Aadhaar doesn’t lead to any kind of surveillance. Aadhaar is constitutionally valid, it empowers the poor with dignity. They have even upheld Aadhaar linking with PAN card: Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tells ANI.
“Justice Chandrachud’s dissent is very important which makes a very strong case. Though the majority might not agree with him, they also said that on whether an Act can be passed as a money bill or not, just the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision is not decisive. The decision can be challenged in court,” Prashant Bhushan tells ANI.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the Aadhaar Act by placing certain conditions. I think, on the whole, it is a good judgment. Though personally, I am happy with Justice Chandrachud’s judgment striking it down on the ground that it bothers right to privacy.
“This kind of provision has to be on an experimental basis. Later on, there may be more amendments or changes, but citizens’ concern has been largely met by the majority by imposing certain limitation and conditions. Justice Chandrachud’s concerns about the intrusion of the right to privacy are very legitimate and personally, I prefer his judgment,” former attorney general Soli Sorabjee tells ANI.
“For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment. For BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance. Thank you Supreme Court for supporting the Congress vision and protecting India,” tweets Rahul Gandhi.
Congress was the pioneer of Aadhaar and then became the biggest opponents against it, says Arun Jaitley.
“A money bill can only be brought in as money bill. Bringing in a money bill is a risk for the government because if it doesn’t pass the government must resign. Bringing in a money bill not as a money bill would have been fraud on the Constitution,’ says Jaitley
The Supreme Court judgment is empowering democracy, good governance, service delivery and empowering the ordinary Indian, says law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Congress says its accept the majority judgment but stands with the minority judgment, I have nothing to say to this, he says.
“Congress cuts a sorry figure. They introduced this idea and didn’t know what to do with it. They decided there shall be an Aadhaar and this is the procedure through which it will be issued, but they did not lay out what it will be used for,” says Jaitley.
Aadhaar verdict a great step forward in use of technology in governance, says Jaitley.
SC has upheld it was money bill, says Jaitley. “Historically, we have been bypassed by several technological advancements. We can’t be allow ourselves to bypassed by this great opportunity,” he says.
122 crore people in India have Aadhaar now. We are saving Rs 90,000 crore every year because of Aadhaar, says Jaitley
“It’s a historic verdict. The concept and legislation of Aadhaar has been accepted after judicial review, it is a welcome decision,” says finance minister Arun Jaitley at Union Cabinet briefing.
“We agree with Justice Chandrachud that this is not a money bill, (not passing it through the Rajya Sabha is) fraud on Constitution,” says Kapil Sibal.
There are grey areas, says Kapil Sibal. “Lakhs of biometrics are not clear because of large part of our labour force work with their hands, what happens to their rights? What is the govt going to do in this regard?” he asks.
“Had the government not been arrogant, as in the case of notebandi, GST and rafale, if they had brought the Aadhaar bill to the Rajya Sabha, nobody would have to go to court,” he says.
“Now a vast amount of biometric date is in private hands, that can be used in any way. There is no way to retrieving it because we don’t know where it is stored. It has done immeasurable harm done to our policy, our democracy and privacy. Who will pay for this?”
We hail the verdict to the extent that it upholds the rights of marginalised and is a basis of entitlement under various public distribution scheme of the government, says senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
“The verdict strikes down right of the private sector to collect Aadhaar number.”
“On grounds of nation security, no officer of the government can demand Aadhaar. If the govt moves an application to that effect, the concerned individual will have to be heard.”
“In case of violation of rights under the act, individuals can now move the court.”
I am very happy with the judgement. It is a landmark and remarkable judgement: Attorney general KK Venugopal to ANI
“We see it as a big victory of the Modi government, the pro-poor Modi government. The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and has also said that it does not violate privacy,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
Retired Karnataka High Court judge KS Puttaswamy, who had challenged the validity of the Aadhaar Act, welcomed the Supreme Court’s majority verdict upholding its constitutionally valid.
“On the whole, it appears that the judgment is fair and reasonable. We can’t say that the judgment suffers from any serious lapses that are found under the Constitution, particularly Article 19, which guarantees certain rights to individuals,” Puttaswamy said.
“SC strikes down section 57 of Aadhaar Act, 2016. So you don’t need to give your Aadhaar to private bodies like banks, schools, mobile companies. Trinamool and @mamataofficial fought hard for this,” The Trinamool Congress said in a tweet.
Justice Chandrachud favours deletion of consumers’ Aadhaar data by mobile service providers.
Government and UIDAI are empowered to cure defects in Aadhaar scheme: Justice Bhushan.
Congress welcomed the Supreme Court decision to strike down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act which allowed private parties to access Aadhaar data.
Justice Ashok Bhushan concurs with majority judgment of AK Sikri. Justice Bhushan says state has given sufficient reasons to uphold Sec 7 of Aadhaar Act which deals with grant of subsidies, welfare benefits
Mobile phones are a store house of data and choices. The decision to link Aadhaar with SIM cards is neither valid nor constitutional, says Justice Chandrachud.
If Aadhaar is made mandatory for every service the Government of India provides, it is impossible to live in India, says Justice Chandrachud.
Legitimate aims can be met with less intrusive measures, he says.
Aadhaar Act is silent on the liability of UIDAI and its personnel in case of any violation, says Justice Chandrachud. The Aadhaar Act does not pass the muster of challenge on the ground of article 14, he says.
Before the enactment of Aadhaar act, MoU between UIDAI and Registrars was not covered under the law. Enrolments before act have no statutory authority, says Justice Chandrachud.
The source code belongs to a foreign corporation. UIDAI is merely a licensee, says Justice Chandrachud.
This is contrary to the basic requirements that an individual has a right to control oneself, he says.
Justice Chandrachud says regulations under Aadhaar act do not provide for a robust mechanism to seek consent. Dignity of rights and individuals can’t be based on algorithm, he says.
Aadhaar programme violates essential norms of privacy and data protection, says Justice Chandrachud.
Aadhaar could not have been passed a money bill, says Justice Chandrachud.
Passing of bill as money bill when it does not qualify as a money bill is a fraud on Constitution, violates Basic Structure, Bar &Bench quotes Chandrachud as saying.
Aadhaar is not mandatory for UGC, NEET & CBSE examinations. Biometric data shall not be shared with any agency without the permission of the court.
Linking of Aadhaar to mobile phones not constitutional, says Supreme Court. No mobile company can demand Aadhaar card, court says.
Aadhaar is not needed for banking, but a must for PAN, says Supreme Court. Aadhaar is needed for filing income tax returns.
For enrolment of children under Aadhaar act, parents shall take consent , says court.
Court says schools cannot make Aadhaar compulsory. Every child has right to education.
On aspect of exclusion raised by the petitioners, court says the entire aim of the Aadhaar program was inclusion.
Court clarifies it’s not trivialising the problem of exclusion. Loopholes must be plugged for the benefit of large section of society. Attorney general’s statement is taken on record that no person will be denied benefit for lack of authentication.
Data obtained through Aadhaar is minimal to reach the benefits. It serves larger section of the society. Right to privacy and right of others need to be maintained and balanced.
Data protection law should be brought in soon, says Supreme Court
Clause allowing sharing of information in the name of national security has been struck down, says court.
Section allowing corporate bodies to seek information has been held unconstitutional.
“After going through the Aadhaar ,structure it is difficult to create profile of the person simply on be basis of biometrics. Authentication records are not to be kept beyond six months,” says Justice Sikri.
“The Aadhaar authentication process is not exposed to the internet world. Regulations are strictly followed. There is a sufficient defence mechanism. There is an oversight by technology... no information on the nature of transaction is obtained,” says Justice Sikri.
Justice Sikri says that heavy reliance has been placed on Right to privacy judgment of 2017.
Court says dignity includes the choices a person can make. Court has developed another aspect that human dignity is considered from personal individual’s point of view. Humanistic concept of human dignity has to be kept in mind, based on socio-economic rights.
Whenever there is a second attempt for Aadhaar, the system knows about it. It for this reason Aadhaar is known as unique identification, unparalleled, says the Supreme Court. “It gives identity to marginalised people of the community... can get various privileges meant for such people,” court says.
Court has concluded minimal possible data is obtained from Aadhaar holders. Device is to give unique identify to citizens, says court.
“There is a fundamental difference between Aadhaar card and identity. Once the bio-metric information is stored, it remains in the system,” says court.
“It’s better to be unique than be best - it’s the central message of Aadhaar,” says Justice Sikri.
Justice AK Sikri to read out the first judgment. Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Khanwilkar agree with Sikri’s view. Justice Chandrachud and Justice A Bhushan have written their individual opinions.
“Data protection is very important and government has made it clear that it will protect the data. A law is also coming in this regard,” says Mukul Rohatgi.
“The judgment will have a far reaching effect because Aadhaar is relevant for a large number of subsidies. It is also relevant to plug loot and waste that has happened. I hope the judgment is in favour of Aadhaar,” says Mukul Rohatgi, who as Attorney General had represented the government in the Aadhaar case.
A key argument against the Aadhaar scheme was that it was violative of the nine-judge bench verdict that had held that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution.
A battery of senior lawyers, including Shyam Divan, Gopal Subramaniam, Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Arvind Datar, K V Vishwanath, Anand Grover, Sajan Poovayya and a few others, had argued on behalf of the petitioners opposing the Aadhaar Scheme on various grounds.
Besides the former HC judge, the top lawyers argued for petitioners, who included Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, social activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil De, Nachiket Udupa and CPI leader Binoy Visman.
The constitution bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, justice AK Sikri, justice AM Khanwilkar, justice DY Chandrachud and justice Ashok Bhushan, reserved its verdict on May 10 after hearing the petitions for over 38 days starting January 17 this year.
More than 30 petitions have challenged the Aadhaar act and government orders that made it compulsory for linking of bank accounts, mobile phone numbers, permanent account numbers and filing of income taxes to the unique ID number and that it violated the right to privacy which the court confirmed as a fundamental right in a nine-judge bench verdict in August 2017.