New Delhi: In a landmark and much-awaited verdict on the controversial issue of Aadhaar card, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld its constitutional validity.
A five-judge constitution bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, delivered their verdicts on whether the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with welfare schemes, bank accounts, PAN, etc, violates the privacy of individuals or it is necessary to maintain accountability and ensure all government benefits reach the poor.
The bench said that Aadhaar identification in unparalleled and it empowers the marginalised sections of the society. Three out of five judges upheld the legality of Aadhaar programme.
The Supreme Court said that the number given to a person is unique and that only minimum possible data has been obtained from the citizens.
Justice Sikri observed that Aadhaar eliminates duplication, enrollment fool-proof, minimal data collected for establishing identity and uniqueness the fundamental difference between Aadhaar and other ID proofs.
The bench also directed the government to ensure that illegal migrants are not issued Aadhaar to get benefits of social welfare scheme.
The bench said that Aadhaar card is mandatory for PAN linking. The bench also upheld passing of Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill by the Lok Sabha, saying there is no illegality in it.
However, the bench ruled that Aadhaar not to be made mandatory for opening of bank account and for getting mobile connection.
A total 31 petitions had challenged the verdict citing violations of the right to privacy. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), statutory authority that maintains Aadhaar database, has the biometric data of 122 crore Indians. People have raised several questions over its safety and security, fearing the data theft could lead to leakage of personal information.
Here are some important takeaways from Supreme Court’s Aadhaar verdict:
- Aadhaar card mandatory for obtaining PAN and filing Income Tax returns.
- Aadhaar not mandatory for obtaining a new SIM card.
- No mobile company can demand “Aadhaar card”.
- The Supreme Court observed that bank accounts need not be mandatorily linked with Aadhaar.
- Aadhaar must not be made compulsory for school admission and school administration cannot make it mandatory. It should also not be made mandatory for CBSE, UGC and NEET exams, the SC said.
- No child can be denied benefits of any schemes on not being able to bring their Aadhaar number.
- Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months.
- The Supreme Court Constitution Bench strikes down the National security exception under the Aadhaar Act.
- The SC said that there is nothing in Aadhaar Act that violates the right to privacy of individual.
- The Supreme Court strikes down the Section 57 of Aadhaar Act; as a result, private companies cannot ask for Aadhaar card.
- The apext court directed the government to not give Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.
- Supreme Court upheld passing of Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill by Lok Sabha.