Five takeaways from Supreme Court’s Aadhaar verdict

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of most of the provisions of Aadhaar, though putting some conditions in its implementation. The 4:1 verdict from a five-judge Constitution bench comes long after several petitions challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar on the ground that it violated right to privacy. On May 10, the bench had reserved its verdict after hearing 38 hearing sessions since January 17.

In the bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra, justice Dhananjay Y. Chandrachud was the lone dissenter, who said that Aadhaar programme as a whole was completely violative of privacy and unconstitutional.

The bench also comprised of justice Arjan Kumar Sekri, justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar and justice Ashok Bhushan.

Here are 10 takeaways from the verdict:

1.The Apex Court said it was mandatory to link Aadhaar with Permanent Account Number (PAN), which is a prerequisite for filing income tax return. The court also allowed use of Aadhaar in the disbursement of subsidies and other benefits under government welfare schemes.

  1. However as the court struck down the Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that allowed sharing of data with private entities, it is no more mendatory for citizens to submit Aadhaar data to open a bank account. No private company or bank can also demand the Aadhaar number from an individual. That means one does not have to provide Aadhaar number to mobile company as well.
  2. Schools cannot demand an individual’s Aadhaar number during the time of his child’s admission, as the Apex court said that no child could be denied the benefit of any scheme for want of an Aadhar card.
  3. In a big relief to students in higher education, the court ruled that it was not mandatory for a student to provide Aadhaar number while registering or appearing for CBSE, UGC and NEET examinations. “CBSE, NEET, UGC making Aadhaar mandatory is bad and they cannot do so,” justice Sekri said.
  4. Both the BJP and Congress welcomed the verdict. BJP spokesperson Sanbit Patra said that the Supreme Court had reiterated the Modi government’s contention that Aadhaar had given strength to the poor people. On the other hand, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the top court’s verdict was an endorsement of the UPA government’s vision for Aadhaar and a rejection of NDA government’s clumsy attempt to gather meta data on its citizens without any rationale. “The Congress led UPA’s vision of Aadhaar was always voluntary and not mendatory,” he tweeted.