Aadhaar Card Issues

Supreme Court Okays Constitutional Validity of Aadhaar

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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.


News

Context

  1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in a majority opinion upheld Aadhaar as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy.
  2. Aadhaar aims to fulfils the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to a large, marginalized population living in abject poverty.
  3. 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

  1. Upholding the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, the Court said neither were individuals profiled nor their movements traced.
  2. This is when Aadhaar was used to avail government benefits under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Statutory bodies like CBSE and UGC cannot ask students to produce their Aadhaar cards for examinations like NEET and JEE.
  3. Permission of parents and guardians was a must before enrolling children into Aadhaar.
  4. Children once they attained the age of majority could opt out of Aadhaar.

Aadhaar not a hurdle for Divyangs, Elderly

  1. 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.
  2. Authentication was found to be only having a 0.232% failure (almost negligible), however it was accurate 99.76% times.
  3. Dismantling the scheme would only disturb this 99.76%.

Aadhaar not a Surveillance tool

  1. Authentication transactions through Aadhaar did not ask for the purpose, nature or location of the transaction.
  2. Besides, information was collected in silos and their merging was prohibited.
  3. The collection of personal data and its authentication was done through registered devices and was not expanded to the Internet.
  4. 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

  1. The Court quashed or read down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act in order to de-fang any possibility of the state misusing data.
  2. For one, the court held that authentication records should not be retained for more than six months.
  3. It declared the archiving of records for five years as “bad in law.”
  4. It also prohibited the creation of a metabase for transactions.
  5. It read down Section 33 (1), which allowed the disclosure of Aadhaar information on the orders of a District Judge.
  6. This cannot be done now without giving the person concerned an opportunity to be heard.

Striking down certain Sections

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