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.
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.