SC: Aadhar Not Mandatory For Bank Accounts, Mobile Connections

Published on 26 Sep 2018 by Shivi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the government’s ambitious Aadhaar scheme as legal with the caveat that it can only be used for limited purposes. 

A five-judge bench led by CJI Dipak Misra ruled that the scheme was a reasonable restriction on the citizen’s right to privacy. 

"Public interest in giving dignity, identity to the marginalised far outweighs concerns of privacy of others," the bench said. 

While Aadhaar would remain mandatory for the filing of IT returns and for allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN), it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and phone connections. 

It would not be mandatory for school admissions, and for exams held by the Central Board of Secondary Examination ( CBSE), National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance ( NEET) and the University Grants Commission (UGC). 

Neither can anyone be excluded in case Aadhar fails. Alternate identity cards can be allowed. Justice Sikri also said that those who don't wish to avail of social welfare benefits can exit from Aadhar. 
The bench comprised among others Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, A. K. Sikri, Ashok Bhushan, and DY Chandrachud. 

The top court was dealing with several petitions challenging the Aadhaar Act and the scheme as unconstitutional. 

The government had at the outset claimed that citizens had to fundamental right to privacy to defend its Aadhaar scheme. This had prompted nine judges of the court to look at the issue. They declared it as a fundamental right of citizens after much deliberation. 

The Aadhaar Act was later tested by a five-judge bench against the nine-judge’s privacy ruling. 

This will deter data interlinking to create a 360-degree profile of any citizen, a concern expressed by government nay-sayers.  The decision came as a boost for the government which has spent crores enrolling over 90 per cent of the population. 

The government first introduced the 12-digit Aadhar number as an omnibus citizenship card and a social security number, prompting a Karnataka High Court judge to move the top court in 2012. 

K.S. Puttaswamy had initially challenged the law as lacking in legislative sanction. The Aadhar Act was also challenged later after it was passed as a money bill. 
Those opposed to it said that such centralisation of data in absence of a robust data protection mechanism was a recipe for widespread leakages of such data. 

The government had, however, insisted that it needed for multiple purposes such as checking leakages in food subsidy, checking financial fraud and reducing immigration.

SOURCE



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