SC to decide on validity of Aadhaar today

Aadhar

The Supreme Court is to deliver on Wednesday its judgement on the validity of Aadhaar, which would decide the fate of the Union government’s flagship programmes that require the 12-digit unique identity number of citizens to be linked with various welfare schemes, bank accounts and mobile phones.

A five-Judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had in May reserved its judgement after a marathon hearing on over two dozen petitions filed by former Karnataka High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy and others.

The petitioners claimed that Aadhaar violated the right to privacy of citizens by taking biometric and iris details. They also said it would allow the state to have a constant watch on the citizens. The Union government, as well as UIDAI, however, claimed 120 crore people have already been given Aadhaar. They said it helped in weeding out ghost beneficiaries of various welfare schemes for the poor, thereby saving thousands of crores of rupees.

The petitioners challenged the validity of Aadhaar programme and its enabling Act of 2016, contending the Constitution does not allow a surveillance state as it was technically possible now to track every transaction, profile individuals or even “compromise constitutional functionaries”.

They said the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) stored and managed the data of Aadhaar project and the government was empowered to collect records during the lifetime of an individual, leading to the profiling of the person. Aadhaar challengers also claimed citizens were being coerced to give all personal details to private operators without any safeguards.

The Centre, for its part, maintained that nobody would be excluded of or denied any entitlement due to inability to link Aadhaar.

On March 13, the top court had extended the March 31 deadline for linking Aadhaar number with bank accounts and mobile phones till the time its Constitution bench delivered the judgement on the validity of the 12-digit unique identification number. It had ordered that Aadhaar card would not be insisted for obtaining passport under ‘Tatkal’ scheme.

The UIDAI had told the court that about four crore authentication of identity took place everyday across the country through Aadhaar and all information, including biometrics, remained safe in separate silos as sharing of any information was absolutely prohibited under the law.

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SC to decide on validity of Aadhaar today

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