Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Various articles of the Aadhaar Act
Mains level: The newscard ends the debate surrounded by Aadhaar. Every statement of the Judgment is vitally important.
- The Hon’ble Supreme Court in a majority opinion upheld Aadhaar as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy.
- Aadhaar aims to fulfils the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to a large, marginalized population living in abject poverty.
- The Constitution does not exist for a few or minority of the people of India, but ‘We the People’,” the Supreme Court observed.
A Money Bill
- Upholding the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, the Court said neither were individuals profiled nor their movements traced.
- This is when Aadhaar was used to avail government benefits under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016.
- The statute only sought “minimal” biometric information, and this did not amount to invasion of privacy.
Bar on bank-mobile link
- The majority opinion upheld the PAN-Aadhaar linkage, but declared linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile SIM cards unconstitutional.
Insulating children from the Aadhaar regime
- The card was not necessary for children aged between six and 14 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as right to education was a fundamental right.
- Statutory bodies like CBSE and UGC cannot ask students to produce their Aadhaar cards for examinations like NEET and JEE.
- Permission of parents and guardians was a must before enrolling children into Aadhaar.
- Children once they attained the age of majority could opt out of Aadhaar.
Aadhaar not a hurdle for Divyangs, Elderly
- Validating Aadhaar use was not trivializing the problem of exclusion faced by the elderly, the very young, the disabled and several others during the authentication process.
- Authentication was found to be only having a 0.232% failure (almost negligible), however it was accurate 99.76% times.
- Dismantling the scheme would only disturb this 99.76%.
Aadhaar not a Surveillance tool
- Authentication transactions through Aadhaar did not ask for the purpose, nature or location of the transaction.
- Besides, information was collected in silos and their merging was prohibited.
- The collection of personal data and its authentication was done through registered devices and was not expanded to the Internet.
- The Authority did not get any information related to the IP address or the GPS location from where authentication was performed.
Preventing Misuse of Data
- The Court quashed or read down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act in order to de-fang any possibility of the state misusing data.
- For one, the court held that authentication records should not be retained for more than six months.
- It declared the archiving of records for five years as “bad in law.”
- It also prohibited the creation of a metabase for transactions.
- It read down Section 33 (1), which allowed the disclosure of Aadhaar information on the orders of a District Judge.
- This cannot be done now without giving the person concerned an opportunity to be heard.
Striking down certain Sections