Supreme Court decision and Future of AADHAAR

Supreme Court decision and Future of AADHAAR

Supreme Court decision on AADHAAR

Recently in the 4:1 verdict, the Supreme Court bench has declared the Aadhaar having constitutional validity. However they suggested some new conditions. In this verdict the bench comprising of Honorable CJI Dipak Misra, upheld that Aadhaar details to be mandatory for filling Income tax returns and allotment of Pan Card Number (PAN), and availing of central governments beneficial schemes and subsidies. But it is not compulsory to link it with the bank accounts and schools boards, also for the entrance examinations conducted by National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for the medical entrance and University Grants Commission. Also telecom companies cannot insist on aadhar card details from its users.

Besides its constitutional status, the Supreme Court has also upheld passing of Aadhaar bill as a Money bill in the Lok sabha by saying that funds are drawn from the consolidated funds of India to provide much needed subsidies & welfare schemes benefits to deserving ones. The Apex court has also asked the central government to have in place “robust data protection regime” to protect the interests of individuals as well as authentication records of Aadhar not to be kept for more than six months. Quashing section 33(1), that allows release of information for security reasons by investigating agencies, they now require judicial warrant to access aadhar data, children should not be denied benefits in the absence of aadhar. Aadhaar should be issued to illegal immigrants in India.

This verdict has come after long drawn marathon hearing that went on for 38 days, covering almost 5 months on the basis of 31 petitions filled. A key argument against this Aadhaar scheme put forth by petitioners (including former high court judge K S Puttaswamy), is that it violates nine judge bench verdict, which initially upheld the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the constitution under article 21 of the constitution and also cited that it was irregularly introduced in the Parliament as a money bill to defeat critical oppositions.

Introduced in 2009, led by Dr Manmohan, UPA, 12 digit unique id, is the largest’s bio metric in the world, having its own data collection Agency called UIDAI, which was established under jurisdiction of Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology. Originally this scheme mandate is to curtail corrupt practices and bring transparency in both public and private sectors. Then this scheme expanded its operations and distracted from original directives, caught in lots of challenges and controversies.  Despite being Unique Sophisticated scheme, it is continuously subjected to various regulations. On 23 September 2013 the Supreme Court issued an interim order saying that “no person should suffer for not getting Aadhaar” and also limited the scope of the program and reaffirmed the voluntary nature of the Aadhar in other rulings. On 24 August 2017 the Indian Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict affirming the right to privacy as a fundamental right, overruling previous judgements on the issues. Thereafter, a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court (mentioned above) heard various cases relating to the validity of Aadhaar on various grounds including privacy, surveillance, and exclusion from welfare benefits. On 9 January 2017 the five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India reserved its judgement on the interim relief sought by petitions to extend the deadline making Aadhaar mandatory for everything from bank accounts to mobile services. The court said that the final hearing for the extension of Aadhaar Linking Deadlines will start on 17 January 2018.

Now there is new verdict from the Supreme Court. No one knows how long this legal battle on Aadhaar card will be stretched.

Aadhaar card validity issue, is causing lots of troubles for those, who either are not having Aadhaar id or have not linked it. Since last year, several banks refused to open accounts without aadhar card, even RBI deadline to link account with Aadhaar to end on March 31. Same story is repeated in insurance companies, who are blatantly avoiding or refusing claims if aadhar is not linked. The Supreme Court extended deadline indefinitely to link Aadhaar with all government and non-government services including bank accounts.

So the lack of clarity around the rules created chaos across organizations, agencies and individuals. A lot of times, some of the concerned person or officials   are not aware of the updated ruling. Sometimes, there is also confusion on who should one be listening to: the RBI, which is the banking regulator, or the Supreme Court or the central government.

What’s next?

This is an obvious questions. For those who have not Aadhaar get one since it is now mandatory for the ITR fillings, allotment of pan card and disbursal of beneficial schemes. For those who have an Aadhaar card, there isn’t much that they need to do for now. They need to wait for the finer details of what happens to your data that has been shared with banks and mobile/telecom service providers among other private companies. Sensing the gravity of this highly sensitive issue, directly impacting each one of us, the government needs to put in place stringent rules, regulations, and procedures on data usage & accessibility. Also it should bring clarity in such laws and build robust framework of data protection.

 

Research Assistant
Pankaj Singh
Green Portfolio PVT LTD
http://greenportfolio.co

 

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