On September 26 2018, the Supreme Court pronounced the verdict on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar card. The SC gave a judgement on whether the Aadhaar Act 2016, violates our fundamental right to privacy because of the biometric and demographic data collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India. UIDAI is a statutory authority established in January 2009, by the Government of India under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
A five-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court including – Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A K Sikri, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, took some major decisions regarding the issue and made crucial amendments to the existing act.
Giving Aadhaar Card scheme its constitutional validity, SC ordered the following changes to be followed:
1) Aadhaar card will be mandatory for accessing welfare schemes and government subsidies that empower the poor and the marginalised.
2) PAN-linking is mandatory, and Aadhaar card will be required for filing income tax returns.
3) The SC struck down sections that attempted to make it mandatory for bank accounts, mobile phone connections – allowing private companies to access Aadhaar data of the customers.
4) It is not mandatory to link Aadhaar card for school admission, and no child shall be denied benefits for the lack of Aadhaar.
5) It is not mandatory to link Aadhaar card to appear in CBSE, UGC and NEET examinations.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “Minimal biometric and demographic information are serving bigger public interest, and it should be voluntary. We are giving supreme priority for the safeguard for the data collected by Aadhaar scheme”, he added. But, with a majority decision, the SC has preferred an individual’s fundamental right to privacy, over the digital economy.