The Supreme Court today declared the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid.
The apex court, however, struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that Aadhaar would remain mandatory for the filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN). But, it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and also telecom service providers cannot seek its linking for mobile connections.
Aadhaar would not be mandatory for school admissions, as also for the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission.
The bench struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act. It said Aadhaar is meant to help the benefits reach the marginalised sections of society and takes into account the dignity of people not only from personal but also community point of view. The top court said Aadhaar is serving much bigger public interest. Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best.
Three sets of judgements were pronounced on the issue. The first one was pronounced by Justice A K Sikri who wrote the judgement for himself, the CJI and Justice A M Khanwilkar.
Justice Chandrachud and Justice A Bhushan, who are also part of the bench, have written their individual opinions.
While Justice Chandrachud said he was expressing certain views different from that of the judgement of the three judges, Justice Bhushan said he concurred with the views of the majority.
Justice Sikri struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act permitting private entities to avail Aadhaar data and ruled that Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months.
The bench also said there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violates the right to privacy of an individual. Ruling that Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months, it directed the government not to give Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.
The verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 law.