Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best: SC

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Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the center's flagship Aadhar scheme as constitutionally valid but some of its provisions were declared illegal. This includes linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.

A constitutional bench comprising of five-judge, headed by Justice Dipak Misra declared that Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN), it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and telecom service providers cannot seek its linking for mobile connections.

Aadhar would not be mandatory for admissions in school and also for the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission. It also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act.

The judgement said that Aadhar is meant to help the benefits reach the marginalised sections in our society and also to take into account the dignity of people through community point of view. 

The top court said Aadhaar is serving much bigger public interest. Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best.

  • The judgement is pronounced in three sets. 
  • The first of the three verdicts was pronounced by Justice A K Sikri who wrote the judgement for himself, CJI and Justice A M Khanwilkar. 
  • Justice Chandrachud and Justice A Bhushan, who are part of the bench, have written their individual opinions.
  • Justice Sikri struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act permitting private entities to avail Aadhaar data and ruled that Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months.
  • It directed the government not to give Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.

The supreme court confirmed the passing of Aadhar Bill as Money Bill by the Lok Sabha. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh along with his party had challenged the passage of the bill in the House.
It said there is nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violates right to privacy of an individual.

Justice Speaks:
  • Justice Sikri said robust data protection regime has to be brought in place as early as possible.
  • He said the attack on Aadhaar by petitioners was based on violation of rights under the Constitution, which they felt will lead to a surveillance State.
  • Observing that there has been minimal demographic and biometric data collected by UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment, Justice Sikri said unique identification proof also empowered and gave identity to marginalised sections of society.
  • The concept of human dignity has been enlarged in the judgement.
  • There is no possibility of obtaining a duplicate Aadhaar card. 
  • There is sufficient defence mechanism for authentication in Aadhaar scheme.

The verdict was given on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 law.

The bench had on May 10 reserved the verdict on the matter after a marathon hearing that went on for 38 days, spanning four-and-half months.

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