Aadhar Verdict: SC upholds constitutional validity with restrictions

The Supreme Court in a majority verdict upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhar, but with certain restrictions.

The five-judge constitution bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan, were in favour of Aadhaar while D Y Chandrachud dissented.

Justice A.K. Sikri said that the Aadhar number is treated as unique and cannot be assigned to any other individual. There is no possibility of duplicating Aadhar due to the biometrics. Also, only a minimum demographic and biometric details are collected.

He added that it is serving a much larger public interest. Aadhaar is giving dignity to marginalised sections of the society. “Dignity to the marginalised outweighs privacy”.

Justice Sikri also said that “No deserving person will be denied service for failure of authentication. It would be appropriate if a suitable provision be made for providing alternative remedies”.

The SC upheld Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act which stated Aadhar is mandatory for any government scheme that draws out of the Consolidated Fund of India. This includes services such as ration, LPG subsidy, MGNREGA, etc.

The SC upheld that Aadhar number is required at the time of filing Income Tax returns.

Aadhaar-PAN card linking has been made mandatory. In addition, while applying for PAN card Aadhar number should be submitted. This is an indirect link to banks, where PAN card number is mandatory.

The SC struck down certain sections of the act. Section 33(1) which allows disclosure of information if ordered by a not inferior to that of district judge was struck down. Also, Section 33(2) which allows identity and authentication data to be disclosed in the interest of national security on direction of an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India.

Section 47 which said that no individual was allowed to file a complaint if he/she felt their data was leaked or misused was struck down by the court.

Justice Sikri found Section 57 unconstitutional. This section allowed private companies to use Aadhar data to establish identity of the individual. This means no private company can force you to submit your Aadhaar data to purchase or avail of a service

The judgement also said banks and other financial institutions cannot seek Aadhaar data.

Justice Sikri said that, “CBSE, NEET, UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory, also it is not compulsory for school admissions”. No child could be denied benefits of any scheme for not having Aadhaar number.

The judgement also specified that the data collected for authentication purposes can be held for only six months. This means UIDAI cannot collect data sets and mine it for more data or analysis.

Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the passage of the Act as a Money Bill can be subjected to judicial review.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, in his judgment, said that passing the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill was a fraud on the Constitution. He said the Aadhaar Act was liable to be struck down as being violative of Article 110. “Rajya Sabha should not have been bypassed,” he added.

Saurabh Chopra

With a blend of vivid areas of interest, Saurabh is a passionate reader and a news writer. He is always enthusiastic and proactive in finding the latest in his fields of interest. Saurabh is also a keen observer in the economic and business pits and falls.

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