SC upholds most provisions of Aadhaar act, rules that the act is compliant with privacy guidelines

Today Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar act. The act was upheld by 5 judge bench with a 4:1, Justice Chandrachud being the dissenter, who said that the entire Aadhaar Act is unconstitutional.

This is seen as an important victory for Government of India in the highest court of law. Although the act as a whole and most of its provisions are upheld by the top court, it has struck down several provisions of the act.

Section 57 of the Aadhaar act struct down by Supreme Court. Now private entities can’t insist on Aadhaar based validation. Court says section 57 violates article 14 and 21 of the constitution.

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Section 47 of the Aadhaar act declared invalid. Under this section, no case could be filed under this act in any court of law. Only UIDAI was authorised to so. Court says this section violates citizens’ rights. Now ordinary citizens would be able to file cases under this act in case of any grievances.

Linking Aadhaar number with Bank account cannot be made mandatory. Aadhaar also can’t be mandatory for mobile phone connections and for opening bank accounts, the bench ruled.

National security exception under Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act struck down by the court. This section had allowed disclosure of Aadhaar data by the orders of an officer of Joint Secretary for the purposes of national authority. Now a judicial warrant and approval by a secretary-level officer will be required, and individuals will have the right to a hearing.

The bench ruled that educational bodies like CBSE, NEET, UGC etc can’t make Aadhaar mandatory for enrollment into various examinations conducted by them and for enrolment of children into Aadhaar, consent of parents will be required. The bench also ruled that after attaining majority they should be given an option to exit from Aadhaar and school admissions can’t be made dependent on Aadhaar.

No Children can be denied any government scheme for lack of Aadhaar. Means schemes like mid-day meal can’t make Aadhaar mandatory. The current act’s section 2(v) does not define legal resident explicitly.

In one of its landmark observations, the court asked the government to amend the act suitable so that it can be made clear that illegal immigrants can’t be issued Aadhaar.

The bench also upheld the mandatory linking of application for PAN with Aadhaar and observed that Aadhaar number or enrolment ID will be needed to be mentioned in the PAN application.

In an observation that could possibly put the privacy debate to rest, the bench agreed with the government that the Aadhaar act is compliant with privacy guidelines.

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