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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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Jammu & Kashmir: 3 Cops killed as Terrorists attack police post in Shopian

A police picket was put up to guard members of the minority community in Zainpora village, which was attacked.

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Srinagar, Dec 11 : Three Jammu and Kashmir Police officials were killed on Tuesday in Shopian district in a militant attack, police said, in which four service rifles were also stolen.

A police picket was put up to guard members of the minority community in Zainpora village, which was attacked.

“Three policemen were killed and one sustained critical injuries,” a police official said.

A manhunt was underway.

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Identity of rape victims has to be protected: Supreme Court

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Dec 11: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the identity of rape victims has to be protected at all stages of the case including during trial.

A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said that the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) reports and other documents related to such cases would be handed over to the trial court in a sealed cover without disclosing the identity of the victims.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Gupta advised the media to avoid sensationalising rape cases for the purpose of increasing the TRP and ordered that identity of minor rape victims cannot be disclosed even by their families.

The court verdict came on a PIL by advocate Nipun Saxena who had moved the court seeking steps for the safety of women in public places.

The petition was filed in the aftermath of the December 16, 2012, Delhi gangrape case.

“The media has not only the right but also duty to report” the cases of sexual assault but “should refrain from interviewing the victim”, it said.

IANS

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‘Jallianwala Bagh massacre was preceded by reign of terror by the British’

“The massacre on 13 April was part of a policy of oppression unleashed by O’Dwyer against the frequent ‘hartals’ (strikes) or the ‘Satyagraha Movement’ (launched by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)

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Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
Jallianwala Bagh, 1919: The Real Story : (Flickr)

Chandigarh, Dec 11 : As the country gears up to observe the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of innocent, unarmed Indians by ruthless British forces, the events before and after the April 13, 1919, killing of hundreds clearly indicate that the British rulers of that time were unnerved by the unrest in Punjab in general and Amritsar in particular, which led them to do something which could “teach a lesson” to the Indians.

“Though Brigadier General Reginald Dyer (who ordered his troops to fire on people who had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh on the fateful day and killed hundreds) was blamed for the action, there is hardly any documented evidence to show how he landed in Amritsar on that day as he was posted in Jalandhar (earlier Jullundur),” author and columnist Kishwar Desai told IANS in an interview here.

Desai, who has penned a book “Jallianwala Bagh, 1919: The Real Story” recently, said that her extensive research on the happenings around the massacre revealed that the British rulers were quite unnerved by the unrest in Punjab and Amritsar.

“Prior to the killings at Jallianwala Bagh, there had been signs of increasing unrest in Punjab. These signs were being interpreted as sedition, even though causes of the unrest were varied. Indeed, it is impossible to understand what happened on 13 April 1919, without an examination of the barbarism unleashed in Punjab under the regime of the then Lieutenant Governor Sir Michael O’Dwyer to suppress the so-called rebellion,” Desai, who is the chair of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust that set up the world’s first Partition Museum at Amritsar’s Town Hall, points out in her book.

The author said that the idea to write this book and to bring out “some facets which had not been researched in detail so far” came after she chanced upon a photograph of the burnt-down Town Hall building of Amritsar. This happened in April 1919.

Further investigation and research, according to Desai, led to more evidence of the British atrocities on Indian subjects just before the Jallianwala Bagh incident and the violence that erupted in Amritsar on April 10 in which many people, including five Europeans, were killed. Properties, including the Town Hall, were targeted to protest against the British atrocities.

Disputing the commonly held narrative that the people who had gathered at the Bagh on the fateful day for an anti-Rowlatt Act meeting were outsiders who had come to Amritsar for the Baisakhi festival, Desai points out that the meeting was attended mostly by local residents of Amritsar and no more than 25 per cent of them were from outside.

“And it is very likely that the massacre was a carefully planned one, not spontaneous one as has been often made out. In all likelihood, no women were present,” Desai states in the book, adding that O’Dwyer, who was nearing retirement at that time, and others in power, were upset over the emerging importance of Punjab in the freedom struggle and retaliated with a reign of terror where people were whipped in public, bombed, incarcerated, forced to crawl, starved, beaten, caged and even executed.

“The massacre on 13 April was part of a policy of oppression unleashed by O’Dwyer against the frequent ‘hartals’ (strikes) or the ‘Satyagraha Movement’ (launched by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)… in fact, the civil administration of Punjab had already declared Amritsar a war zone (around April 11) and regarded the residents as their enemies,” Desai points out in the book.

Dyer, who had arrived in Amritsar from Jullundur on the evening of April 11, had ordered his troops to fire on the gathering inside Jallianwala Bagh on the evening of April 13, 1919. The official death figure was put at 379 while nearly 1,200 were injured. The death toll is often disputed, with claims (Indian National Congress Report) that over 1,000 innocent people were killed.

“Not a very well-known entity” when he arrived in Amritsar, Dyer had a “fairly humdrum career” till he “hit immortality as a mass murderer”, the new book says.

(Jaideep Sarin can be reached at [email protected])

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