Aadhar Card has become a part and parcel of everyone’s lives from the general population to corporates in India. The identification system was brought in by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) under compliance with the Aadhar Act of 2016. However, the government of India, in August of 2018, upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right of the citizens. This decision raised eyebrows on the system of identification via Aadhar which takes biometric as well as personal details of the citizens. Many argued that the Aadhar was an alarming breach of the Right to Privacy and hence should be deemed unconstitutional. A panel of judges on September 26 sat down to discuss and decide whether Aadhar was indeed unconstitutional. Here we discuss the Supreme Courts’ decisions from the Aadhar verdict.
Problems Outlined under Aadhar Act
In the hearing conducted to decide whether Aadhar is constitutional, Justice Chandrachud first outlined the vast array of problems and breaches of constitutional rights under the Aadhar scheme. Here are the salient points from his arguments.
- There’s a shift in the economy to a knowledge-based economy and Aadhar is basically the entire information about an individual
- The Aadhar program violates norms of Data Protection and Informational Privacy
- Regulations laid down under the provisions of the Aadhar act lack robust mechanisms for informed consent.
- Chandrachud also asserted that Aadhar should not be a Money Bill and that the Aadhar act could be unconstitutional.
- The Aadhar system provides no clarification for updating the biometric details of a person in case of a mismatch.
- The responsible parties i.e. respondents(Government, UIDAI) have failed to deliver satisfying results on tests of necessity and proportionality of the Aadhar scheme.
- Aadhar Act fails to comment on their liabilities.
- Aadhar Scheme fails to account for flaws leading to exclusion of many eligible beneficiaries.
- There is no system for accountability or responsibility of UIDAI to ensure that data entered in their databases is authentic
“The dignity of individuals cannot be subject to algorithms” Chandrachud made his remarks on the Aadhar Scheme.
The definitive Aadhar Verdict
A 5-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Mishra came to the majority conclusion that Aadhar is constitutional. However, there are many changes to the Aadhar Structure. The justice also requested to deploy extra security measures for data protection as well as reducing the time period of storage of data. Let’s look at some of the highlights of the Supreme Court’s order.
Along with declaring that Aadhar is constitutional, The Supreme Court deemed that the Aadhar is rather a voluntary measure instead of a compulsory one. They also imposed that Aadhar will not be mandatory for Bank Accounts, Schools, or for registering a new SIM card. In addition to this, the majority ruling of the Supreme Court verdict also dictates that it’s unconstitutional for corporates to seek Aadhar as a means of authentication. Supreme Court also asserted that the Aadhar is constitutional enough to be passed as a Money Bill.
However, as far as government welfare schemes, PAN cards, and driving licenses go, Aadhar will continue to be a mandatory requirement to avail of these provisions from the government. Thus, good steps have been put forward by the justice system of India to ease the obligations on the citizens as well as protect the violations of their fundamental constitutional rights.
With the judgment on Aadhar passed, it is easier to open bank accounts without all the compliance procedures of Aadhar.
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