5 key takeaways from Supreme Court’s Aadhaar judgment

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"We welcome the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act".

While Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan form the majority, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud wrote a dissenting view, calling Aadhaar "a fraud on the Constitution". He had argued that Aadhaar violated the right to privacy and had no legislative backing.

Supreme Court has also struck down the need of Aadhaar card from admissions in school. A Twitter user pointed out that as per the verdict, Aadhaar IDs won't be essential anymore for opening bank accounts; however, it's been made essential for linking PAN and PAN is essential for the opening bank accounts. Private companies can not force you to link your Aadhaar as the SC read down Section 57 of the Act which allowed the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any goal.

It also said that schools could not insist on children's Aadhaar numbers to enrol students, further adding that no child could be denied state welfare benefits for the want of an Aadhaar number. However, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh challenged the manner in which the Aaadhar Act was passed and the case was clubbed with the petitions. "The entire aim of launching the programme was inclusion of those who deserve to get benefits".

Those opposing Aadhaar, which is essentially a unique 12-digit number given to every citizen, claim it was a massive surveillance launched by the Centre and violated privacy. It was launched in India in 2009 to streamline welfare payments and reduce wastage in public spending.

Prasanna S., a lawyer representing petitioners, said the court had delivered a "body blow" to the "vision of the Aadhaar project as a universal and ubiquitous ID" and the order "effectively makes Aadhaar voluntary, not mandatory".

However, the Aadhar card is mandatory for PAN linking as well as for filing Income Tax return.

As the government's program expanded, the retired judge's original petition swelled into a movement centered around privacy, security, and denials of welfare entitlements due to authentication problems.

Is "right to privacy" a fundamental right?

He said the data was vulnerable to be misused by third party and private vendors, and that too, without the consent of an individual.

Observing that there has been minimal demographic and biometric data collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for Aadhaar enrolment, Justice Sikri said unique identification proof empowered and gave identity to the marginalised sections of society and there was no possibility of obtaining a duplicate as there existed a sufficient defence mechanism.

Under Section 33 (2), the government is authorised to disclose a person's Aadhaar-related information in the interest of national security on the direction of an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary working under Government of India.