The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld most of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act by a 4:1 majority. Justice DY Chandrachud was the sole dissenter. The court said mobile phones and bank accounts do no need to be linked with Aadhaar though it has to be linked with PAN cards for filing income tax-returns.
Private companies cannot insist on Aadhaar data and banks and phone companies cannot insist on Aadhaar-linking, said a five-judge constitutional bench. Aadhaar, however, has to be linked to citizens’ PAN (Permanent Account Number) information for the filing of tax returns.
In a four-one verdict, the court also said Aadhaar is not compulsory for school admissions. “No child shall be denied benefits for the want of Aadhaar,” the judges said. “Aadhaar gives dignity to marginalised sections, which outweighs the harm,” said the court in its verdict on 27 petitions that challenged the constitutional validity of the national identity card and called it a violation of the right to privacy.
The court also said “very, very minimal data” is collected for Aadhaar, that other documents needed for Aadhaar are also proof of identity.
Over one billion Indians have already signed up for Aadhaar, set up to be a secure form of digital identification for citizens to be used for government services.On May 10, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the top court had reserved it’s judgement in the case after a hearing that lasted 38 sessions. The petitioners had raised concerns about privacy and questioned why the identity number was made mandatory for people to avail of welfare schemes, file income tax returns, hold mobile numbers, and bank accounts.
A major point of contention was whether Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy, which the Supreme Court upheld in 2017. The government backed the Aadhaar initiative, and extended it to cover several social security schemes. (Story Courtesy:Wires)