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Supreme Court upholds constitutional validity of Aadhaar with modifications

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Supreme Court on Aadhaar

New Delhi, Sep 26: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar with modifications. 

The Apex court ruled that the Aadhaar card is not needed for school admissions,  opening bank accounts and mobile phone connections. While made mandatory for linking with PAN card.

Justice AK Sikri had authored the judgement on behalf of him, CJI and Justice Khanwilkar. Justice Chandrachud and Justice A Bhushan have written their individual opinions.

While reading out the verdict on constitutional validity of Aadhaar, Justice Sikri said “There is a fundamental difference between Aadhaar card and identity. Once the bio-metric information is stored, it remains in the system”.

“It is better to be unique than to be best”, he added.

Justice Sikri further said, “Aadhaar empowers the marginalised section of the society and gives them an identity, Aadhaar is also different from other ID proofs as it can’t be duplicated”.

Meanwhile, in a  minority verdict, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that passing the Aadhaar law as money bill was a fraud on the Constitution because it was not a money bill.

He also observed there was a risk of surveillance of people on the basis of data collected under the scheme and that the data could be misused.

The judges who gave the majority ruling were A.M. Khanwilkar, Ashok Bhushan, Misra and Sikri who approved the passage of Aadhaar law as money bill.

“We are of the view that there are sufficient safeguard to protect data collected under Aadhaar scheme,” the judgement asserted.

Earlier, the apex court had reserved the verdict in May after a marathon hearing, which lasted for 38 days spread across four months.

The Court heard around 27 petitions against Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 law.

Former Karnataka High Court Judge K.S. Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, social activist Aruna Roy, Nikhil De, Nachiket Udupa and others had challenged the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar on the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy.

Key Points: 

Nothing in Aadhaar Act which violates the right to privacy of citizens

The court said that as of today “we do not find anything in Aadhaar Act which violates right to privacy of individual citizen”.

Supreme Court strikes down the section 57 of Aadhaar Act

The apex court struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act which allows private companies to demand the unique identity document for the verification purposes.

No need to link Aadhaar With Bank Accounts and Mobile Numbers, but compulsory for PAN 

The top court asserted that No mobile company can demand “Aadhaar card”.

Aadhaar card is mandatory for PAN linking, said the Supreme Court.

No Aadhaar for school admissions and UGC, NEET & CBSE examinations

The bench of CJI Dipak Misra stated: “Aadhaar need not be made compulsory for school admissions.”

“Education has taken us from thumb impression to signature, now technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression”, the bench said.

Besides this, the apex court ruled “Aadhaar is not mandatory for UGC, NEET and CBSE examinations. Biometric data shall not be shared with any agency without the permission of the court”.

Introduce strong data protection law: Justice Sikri to Centre 

Justice Sikri asked the central government Centre to “introduce a strong data protection law as soon as possible”.

The Supreme Court said, “minimal demographic & biometric data of citizens are collected by the UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment. Aadhaar number given to a person is unique & can’t go to any other person”

Reading out the Judgement Justice Sikri said that Aadhaar empowers the marginalised section of the society and gives them an identity, Aadhaar is also different from other ID proofs as it can’t be duplicated”.

No person will be denied government schemes due to a failure of authentication through Aadhaar

“No person will be denied benefits under social welfare scheme because of failure of authentication through Aadhaar,” the court said.

Government needs to ensure that illegal migrants do not get Aadhaar card

“We direct the government to ensure that illegal migrants are not issued Aadhaar to get benefits of social welfare schemes”, the judgement asserted.

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Without comprehensive reforms, UN faces ”crisis of confidence’: PM Modi

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti introduced Prime Minister Modi’s pre-recorded statement from the UN General Assembly Hall.

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Narendra Modi

United Nations, Sep 22: The United Nations faces a “crisis of confidence” without comprehensive reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, asserting that the world needs a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.

Prime Minister Modi’s call for reformed multilateralism assumes special significance as it comes on the eve of India taking a seat at the powerful UN Security Council as an elected non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021.

“We cannot fight today’s challenges with outdated structures. Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence,” Modi said on Monday in his video address to the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

As the UN marks 75 years of its existence, the 193-member UN General Assembly adopted a forward-looking political declaration that gave a clarion call for strengthening mechanism to combat terrorism, reformed multilateralism, inclusive development and better preparedness to deal with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting that the declaration also acknowledges the need for reform of the United Nations itself, Modi said, “For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.”

He said India looks forward to working with all other nations towards this end.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti introduced Prime Minister Modi’s pre-recorded statement from the UN General Assembly Hall.

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8 suspended Rajya Sabha MPs’ protest stretches into the night

The Congress has announced it will take to the streets, launching a mass movement across the country from September 24 to demand withdrawal of the farm bills.

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8 suspended Rajya Sabha MPs

New Delhi: The eight members of Parliament (MPs), who were suspended by Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, have been protesting near the Gandhi statue in the premises.

Their protest has been going on since the time Naidu ordered their suspension for unruly behaviour in the House during the passage of two farm bills on Sunday.

These MPs – Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen, Sanjay Singh of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress leaders Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora and Syed Nasir Hussain and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the CPI(M) – are sitting with placards which read ‘we will fight for farmers’.

They were suspended for a week under Rule 256(2).

West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said that she is in touch with the MPs and the protest will continue through the night. “In Delhi also, the protest is going on under Gandhi Murti and it will continue the entire night, I am in touch with them,” Banerjee said in Howrah.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that the conduct of Opposition leaders on Sunday was “shameful” and “irresponsible”.

Stating rule 256, Prasad said a member is expected to leave the House immediately if suspended by the Chairman but the Opposition leaders did not pay heed to Naidu’s words.

The Congress has, meanwhile, announced it will take to the streets, launching a mass movement across the country from September 24 to demand withdrawal of the agricultural bills.

“The decision was taken at a meeting of members of the auxiliary committee, the general secretaries and the state in-charges,” former Union Minister AK Antony said in a press conference.

The party has set a target of collecting signatures of 2 crore farmers and handing them over to the President on November 14.

It has termed the suspesion of the MPs, including three of its own, as “undemocratic” and “one-sided”.

Rajya Sabha witnessed unruly scenes on Sunday as Opposition members stormed the well and reached the deputy chairman’s seat to protest against the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. These legislations were passed through voice vote.

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20 opposition MPs urge President to not grant assent to Agri Bills

The Opposition MPs said that the issue raised is, however, of much wider importance.

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Opposion MPs

New Delhi, Sep 22 : At least 20 opposition MPs on Monday wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him not to grant assent to the controversial Agriculture Bills, alleging that the way they were passed without any debate was a “murder of democracy”.

“We, belonging to diverse political parties cutting across India’s political and geographical spectrum, bring this representation to you to respectfully draw your urgent attention to the absolute and total murder of democracy, ironically in the most hallowed temple of democracy, parliament,” read the letter signed by leaders of the Congress, the Left, the NCP, the DMK, the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena, the Janat Dal-Secular, the Trinamool Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, among others.

The Opposition MPs said that the issue raised is, however, of much wider importance.

“We are concerned with something which affects the very backbone of the Indian Republic viz its ‘annadata’, the community of farmers,” they said.

It said that on issue like this, “majoritarian, insensitive and uncaring” governance has no role and all stakeholders have to listen, absorb, imbibe and thereafter act with humility. There is no place for the politics of ‘zid’ (stubbornness) and arrogance. Instead the voice of those speaking for the farmers was sought to be stifled.

“Most unfortunately, the latter was in full force in government instructions to all, given with the brazen object of ramming legislation down the throat of disagreeing Parliamentarians without allowing it to be tested freely and fairly by vote by division,” it said.

It further said that the Bills were purportedly treated as passed though were never voted upon.

“Division, asked not by one but innumerable Members, was denied,” it alleged, adding that motions and statutory resolutions, including for amendments were not even looked at, much less considered.

“No attempt was made to even try for a sense of the House or a consensus as to whether the House should sit beyond the strictly prescribed 1 p.m. or continue the next day. September 20, most inexplicably and mysteriously, was treated as if it was the last day of the Session and as if heavens would fall if voting with division was heald on September 21,” it said.

It further said that massive show of force was exerted by security personnel invited inside the House in numbers exceeding those of the MPs present.

“Almost half the Rajya Sabha was seated in the LOk Sabha chamber and the chair neither looked towards them; large parts of the proceedings in the RS chamber were not even audible to those of the RS in the LS chamber. It further said that the egregious and brazen acts of the government, in clear collusion with the legislative organ of our Republic, is also proof positive of the lack of numbers and lack of support with the government qua passage of these Bills.

“It is clear that the government was fully aware that the Bills could not and would not be passed due to wide opposition, cutting across political lines, including strong opposition from several NDA allies and supporters and consequently tactics were adopted to supposedly pass the Bills in a tyrannical manner unknown to our Constitution,” it alleged.

“We pray that you return the bills and do not append your signature,” it said.

In the morning, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu suspended eight MPs, minutes after the House reconvened. These lawmakers from the Trinamool Congress, the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party were accused of creating ruckus in Parliament on Sunday.

The motion was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan, following which the House suspended Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen of the Trinamool, Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora, and Syed Naseer Hussain of the Congress, Sanjay Singh of the AAP and K.K. Ragesh and E Kareem of the CPI-M.

The opposition members indulged in sloganeering after the resolution was moved by voice vote.

Earlier, Naidu said that it was a “sad day for democracy” and “unfortunate” and “condemnable”, as he rejected a no-confidence motion against Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed bedlam on Sunday as the government sought to get cleared two of the three contentious farm Bills amid unrelenting opposition protests. O’Brien allegedly tore a rule book while Satav and Sanjay Singh climbed on a table in the House to protest.

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