The Aadhaar verdict simplified

Supreme Court rules Aadhaar not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile numbers, school admissions

Supreme Court rules Aadhaar not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile numbers, school admissions

The apex court's five-judge Constitution bench said Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best.

Justice Sikri pronounced the judgement for himself, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar.

Starting off, Justice Sikri said that it is better to be unique than the best. While ruling that Aadhar will not be required for opening bank accounts, to get mobile phone connections and admission in schools, the apex court struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act which allows private entities to ask for Aadhaar to access services.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had then directed all parties concerned to file their written submissions to put forth their case. He also agreed with the view that there was no need to link Aadhaar with mobile numbers. The government has aimed to use this as a secure identification method which can help the person avail many government benefits. The Aadhar authentication data can not be stored for more than six months, it added.

The former Chairperson of UIDAI said earlier this year that the Aadhaar will not be scrapped.

Some of the activists who have been protesting against Aadhaar say they are disappointed with the "safe" stand taken by the Supreme Court, although they have welcomed the dissenting opinion by Judge D Chandrachud.

In a 100-page unanimous verdict penned by the CJI, the apex court left it to Parliament to make a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political stream.

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One's Aadhaar or identification number had become increasingly necessary for common services, from carrying out bank transactions to applying for a passport to acquiring a SIM card for a mobile phone.

Justice Sikhri has conditionally upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.

Aadhaar is presently the world's largest biometric and identity database with 122.56 crore numbers issued to Indian citizens.

This data was vulnerable to be misused by third party and private vendors, and that too, without the consent of an individual, Justice Chandrachud maintained and said the Aadhaar project has failed to remedy the flaws in its design, leading to exclusion. If the court finds the law to be violative of fundamental rights, the 118 crore enrolments and linkages would be in peril.

"Mandating Aadhaar for benefits and services under Section 7 would lead to a situation in which citizens will not be able to live without Aadhaar", he stated, while rapping the Central government for making it mandatory for several schemes despite the Supreme Court noting in 2015 that it was to be purely voluntary.

- Absence of independent regulatory framework compromises data protection.

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