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Aadhaar: India Supreme Court upholds controversial biometric database

26 September 2018

When the Supreme Court read out its majority judgement on the Aadhaar today, Justice AK Sikri said that the Aadhaar is constitutional, but with some caveats.

The Supreme Court's five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said Aadhaar is meant to help benefits reach the marginalised sections of the society and takes into account the dignity of people not only from personal but also from community point of view. "An insensitive BJP government had insisted on Aadhaar for schemes targeting the poorest of the poor". "The court has observed that minimal data is collected for the purposes of establishing identity under Aadhaar".

Till now the Centre has issued 139 notification, catering to various day-to-day activities, making linking Aadhaar mandatory.

The Supreme Court on September 26 gave its much-awaited judgement on the controversial issue of the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.

The apex court added that CBSE, NEET, UGC can not make Aadhaar mandatory, also not compulsory for school admissions. They envision a future where Aadhaar forms the core of a digital identity that could eventually include every Indian's health records, credit scores, e-signatures, criminal backgrounds, welfare entitlements and other data.

It however, said that private entities including mobile phone operators and private banks would no longer have the authority to demand customers' Aadhaar numbers and instructed the government to "bring out a robust data protection law urgently".

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The bench also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

PAN card and Income Tax returns: The majority judgment says that the requirement of linking Aadhaar to PAN card and quoting it while filing tax returns is a legitimate state interest and does not violate the fundamental right to privacy. This, if not curtailed, was destructive of a limited Constitution and violated an individual's fundamental right to privacy, it was claimed.

- Passing of the Aadhaar bill as money bill when it does not qualify as a money bill is a fraud on Constitution.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) has also welcomed the verdict. He added that the "mainstream should accept changes, one can understand the fringe being against Aadhaar".

In other words, the government can not disclose anyone's Aadhaar information even under the guise of national security without a warrant.

In a 100-page unanimous verdict penned by the CJI, the apex court left it to Parliament to make a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political stream.

Aadhaar: India Supreme Court upholds controversial biometric database