Supreme Court has declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid, but with conditions. The majority verdict of the five-judge Constitution Bench has ruled that there is no need to link Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones, but held that Aadhaar could be passed as a money bill. The court further says that schools cannot insist on Aadhaar and read down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, barring sharing of information with corporate bodies. In a dissenting judgment, Justice DY Chandrachud says Aadhaar "in its entirety is unconstitutional" and that it couldn’t have been passed as Money Bill.
The apex court 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. The top court said Aadhaar is serving much bigger public interest and Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best. There are three sets of judgments being pronounced on the issue.
The first of the three verdicts was pronounced by Justice A K Sikri who wrote the judgment for himself, CJI Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar. Justice Sikri said robust data protection regime has to be brought in place as early as possible. He said attack on Aadhaar by petitioners is based on violation of rights under the Constitution, will lead to a surveillance State. He said there has been minimal demographic and biometric data collected by UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment.
Justice Sikri said unique identification proof also empowers and gives identity to marginalised sections of society. There is no possibility of obtaining a duplicate Aadhaar card, he said, adding that there is sufficient defence mechanism for authentication in the Aadhaar scheme. The concept of human dignity has been enlarged in the judgement, he said. Justice Chandrachud and Justice A Bhushan, who are part of the bench, have written their individual opinions.
The verdict was pronounced 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.