The Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of the Aadhaar in its majority verdict (4 out of 5 judges).
- Aadhaar is a 12-digit Unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data.
- It was established under the provisions of theAadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
- The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
- Not all matters pertaining to an individual were an inherent part of the right to privacy.
- Some matters are reasonable expectation of privacy, were protected by Article 21 of the Constitution.
The following sections of the Aadhaar Act struck down by SC
- Section 33(2)– Allows UIDAI to share data with specially authorised officers in the interest of National security.
- Section 47 – The law allowed the court to take cognisance of offence only on complaint by UIDAI or anyone authorised by it.
- Section 57– Refers to the use of Aadhaar data by any “body corporate or person” to establish the identity of an individual.
The highlights of the verdict
- There is no possibility of duplicating Aadhaar due to the biometrics and added that it collects only minimum demographic and biometric details.
- Aadhaar is mandatory for filing of income tax returns (ITR) and allotment of PAN.
- Aadhaar card is however must for availing facilities of welfare schemes and government subsidies as it empowers the poor and marginalised. It also held that beneficiaries cannot be denied services or subsidies in the name of Aadhaar.
- Aadhaar gives dignity to the marginalised. Dignity to the marginalised outweighs privacy – Justice Sikri.
- Students of CBSE, NEET, UGC also do not require Aadhaar number to appear in exams. Even schools cannot seek Aadhaar card for admissions.
- Seeding Aadhaar with mobile phone numbers and bank accounts is not needed.
- Data collected for authentication purposes can be held for only six months.
- The passage of the Act as a Money Bill can be subjected to judicial review.
- Any individual will now be allowed to file a complaint if he/she feels their data has been compromised.
- Telecom service provider cannot seek Aadhaar details from people.
- Section 33(1)
- Prohibits disclosure of information, including identity and authentication records, except ordered of a district judge or higher court.
- The judgement enabledindividuals to have a right to challenge such an order passed by approaching the higher court.
The dissenting note
- Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, in his judgment, said that passing the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill was a fraud on the Constitution.
- He also held section 7 of the Act, which makes Aadhaar mandatory for state subsidies, as Unconstitutional.