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Supreme Court rules 4-1 Aadhaar as constitutionally valid, but not required for everything

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Supreme Court rules 4-1 Aadhaar as constitutionally valid, but not required for everything

In a long awaited judgment, the Supreme Court in 4-1 verdict on Wednesday, September 26, declared the Centre’s Aadhaar scheme, that uses biometric data to generate 12-digit unique identification numbers for citizens, as constitutionally valid even as it struck down some the provisions that made it mandatory to link it with bank accounts and mobile phones.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that while Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of income tax returns (ITR) and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN), it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and telecom service providers cannot seek its linking of Aadhaar for mobile connections.

The top court also held that Aadhaar would not be mandatory for school admissions. It would also not be mandatory examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE), National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission (UGC), the court ruled.

The top court also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. 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 a much bigger public interest. Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best.

Three sets of judgments were pronounced in the matter. The first of the three verdicts was pronounced by Justice AK Sikri who wrote the judgment for himself, CJI and Justice AM Khanwilkar.

Justice Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, who are part of the bench have written their own judgments. Justice DY Chandrachud dissented, and Justice Ashok Bhushan concurred with the majority judgment.

Delivering the majority opinion of the five-judge Constitution bench, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice AM Khanwilkar said there was a “sufficient defence mechanism” for authentication in the scheme.

The judges said there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violates a person’s right to privacy. It also upheld the passing of the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill by the Lok Sabha.

Justice Sikri, reading out the majority verdict, struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act which permits private entities to avail Aadhaar data and ruled that Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months. It directed the government not to give Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.

He said the attack on Aadhaar by petitioners was based on violation of rights under the Constitution, which they felt will lead to a surveillance State.

Observing that there has been minimal demographic and biometric data collected by UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment, Justice Sikri said unique identification proof also empowered and gave identity to marginalised sections of society.

There is no possibility of obtaining a duplicate Aadhaar card, he said, adding there is sufficient defence mechanism for authentication in Aadhaar scheme.

The concept of human dignity has been enlarged in the judgement, he said.

Aadhaar means unique, and it’s better to be unique than being the best, the court said. It struck down the national security exception in the Aadhaar Act, the scheme’s enabling law, as well as Section 57 of the Act, which permits private entities to avail Aadhaar data.

The court said it wasn’t mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts or mobile numbers, but that that the identification was compulsory for the filing of I-T returns and for the allotment of Permanent Account Numbers (PAN).

It said no child can be denied benefits of any schemes if he or she can’t produce an Aadhaar number. The CBSE, the NEET, and the UGC can’t make Aadhaar mandatory, and the scheme isn’t compulsory for school admissions, the court said.

The court also directed the government not to give illegal immigrants Aadhaar.

The Constitution bench had reserved its verdict on May 10. It heard petitions challenging Aadhaar’s constitutional validity on grounds that it violated the fundamental right to privacy. Last year, a nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that privacy was a fundamental right.

Today’s verdict concludes a 38-day hearing held over four-and-half months, the second-longest oral hearing in history, and concerns a programme that already covers more than 122 crore Indians. A number of services, such as government welfare schemes, require Aadhaar authentification.

Key points in the dissenting judgment of Justice DY Chandrachud:

The passing of Aadhaar Bill as a money bill was a subterfuge. Superseding Rajya Sabha to pass the Aadhaar Bill is a fraud to the Constitution.

Justice Chandrachud said Article 110 has specific grounds for Money Bill and Aadhaar law went beyond these grounds. It may have been politically expedient for the ruling party in power to bring Aadhaar Act as Money Bill. But it amounted to debasement of constitutional authorities, he observes.

Justice Chandrachud said individuals cannot be asked to wait upon the vicissitudes of algorithms. He said authentication data can only be retained for six months.

He warned leakage from central database will pave way for surveillance. UIDAI has no accountability/responsibility for storage or leakage of data, he said.

Certain provisions lead to invasion of biological attributes. Differing with the majority judgment on Aadhaar giving dignity of marginalised, he said, “One right cannot take away another. Dignity to the marginalised cannot do away with right of a person to bodily autonomy.”

Constitutional guarantees cannot be left to risks posed by technological advancements

Absence of independent regulatory framework compromises data protection therefore Aadhaar does not pass the constitutionality test under Article 14

“Aadhaar negates pluralistic identities and reduces a person to just 12 digits,” he says.

Justice Chandrachud also raps Central government for insisting on Aadhaar for several schemes despite the Supreme Court repeatedly saying it is not mandatory in various rulings.

With this, Justice Chandrachud strikes down the validity of Aadhaar.

Justice Ashok Bhushan in his judgment he concurred with the majority judgment, except on three aspects.

In the name of Aadhaar, rightful beneficiaries should not be denied services, subsidies, or benefits, Justice Bhushan said.

He said the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to pass a Bill as Money Bill is amenable to judicial review.

Justice Bhushan said no material was placed before the Supreme Court to indicate that there has been considerable denial of benefits of subsidies to deserving persons.

He also said that biometric data contains certain personal information of citizens and the breach, if any, has to be ascertained.

Highlights of the verdict:

  1. Aadhaar mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number, says SC
  2. SC says not mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts
  3. Aadhaar not needed for mobile connections. Telecom service providers can’t seek linking of Aadhaar, says SC
  4. SC says nothing in Aadhaar Act that violates right to privacy of individual
  5. SC upholds passing of Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill by Lok Sabha
  6. SC says no child can be denied benefits of any schemes on not being able to bring their Aadhaar number
  7. SC directs government not to give Aadhaar to illegal immigrants
  8. CBSE, NEET, UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory, also not compulsory for school admissions: SC
  9. Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months: SC
  10. SC Constitution Bench strikes down the National security exception under the Aadhaar Act
  11. Section 57 of Aadhaar Act permitting private entities to avail Aadhaar data struck down
  12. Robust data protection regime has to be brought in place as early as possible, says Justice Sikri in majority verdict
  13. There is sufficient defence mechanism for authentication in Aadhaar scheme: Justice Sikri
  14. The concept of human dignity has been enlarged in the judgement, says Justice Sikri
  15. SC declares Aadhaar scheme as Constitutionally valid
  16. There is no possibility of obtaining a duplicate Aadhaar card: Justice Sikri
  17. It is better to be unique than being best; Aadhaar means Unique: SC
  18. SC says there has been minimal demographic and biometric data collected by UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment
  19. Unique identification proof also empowers and gives identity to marginalised sections of society, says SC

Read the Full Judgment here

India News

AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj says a conspiracy is underway for slow death of Arvind Kejriwal

Saurabh Bharadwaj also slammed the Tihar administration, BJP, Centre and Delhi LG and held them responsible for denying insulin to Kejriwal and said the Delhi Chief Minister has been suffering from Type-2 diabetes for the last 20-22 years.

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The Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday said that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is being pushed towards a slow death inside Tihar jail as he is being denied insulin and consultations with his doctor.  AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj told the media that Arvind Kejriwal, who is suffering from Type-2 diabetes, has been asking for insulin and a video conferencing with his family doctor as the jail administration is not allowing him to do so.

Bharadwaj said he wants to say with full responsibility that a conspiracy is underway for the slow death of Kejriwal. He said his claims were on the basis of blood sugar readings of the Delhi Chief Minister in jail. He also slammed the Tihar administration, BJP, Centre and Delhi LG and held them responsible for denying insulin to Kejriwal and said the Delhi Chief Minister has been suffering from Type-2 diabetes for the last 20-22 years.

On Friday, the Delhi chief minister’s council Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Kejriwal has not been administered insulin to control his sugar levels since his arrest, and termed it alarming and shocking. The Enforcement Directorate had on Thursday claimed before the court that Kejriwal has been taking high sugar intake by consuming foods like mangoes and sweets every day, inspite of the fact that he was suffering from Type-2 diabetes, to create grounds for medical bail.

Kejriwal refuted the claims of the Enforcement Directorate by asserting before a court that the food he consumed was in accordance with the diet chart prepared by his doctor. Arvind Kejriwal confirmed that he only uses sugar free in his tea.

Bharadwaj further added that overall, it was a conspiracy to give a slow death to Arvind  Kejriwal so that his multiple organs get damaged and when he comes out of jail after 2-4 months he goes for the treatment of heart, kidney and other organs.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi says BJP will not get more than 150 seats in Lok Sabha elections

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said these BJP people are saying that they will secure this many or that many seats and but he wanted to make it clear that BJP will not get more than 150 seats.

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With completion of the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections yesterday, the stage is set for the 2nd phase of the Lok Sabha elections, which has lead the political parties to intensify and accelerate campaigning. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too, with his eyes set on the 2nd phase was addressing a public rally at Bihar’s Bhagalpur on Saturday.

Addressing the rally, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and said these BJP people are saying that they will secure this many or that many seats and but he wanted to make it clear that BJP will not get more than 150 seats.

Rahul Gandhi expressed his confidence that the I.N.D.I.A. Bloc will emerge victorious in the Lok Sabha elections. He also stressed on the party’s vision for INDIA once elected to power. Rahul Gandhi said, As soon as the INDIA alliance government comes, they will end the Agniveer scheme. He said India does not need two types of martyrs and added that everyone should get pension.

Gandhi further added that they will change GST and there will be one tax, minimum tax. He also talked about doubling the salary of Asha and Anganwadi workers. Gandhi said they are giving 2 guarantees to the farmers. The Congress party is going to waive off the farmers’ debts, and secondly, they are going to provide a guaranteed minimum support price to the farmers of India.

Congress leader even promised that his government would provide all diploma holders and graduates in India with the right to an apprenticeship. During the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections which are scheduled to be held on April 26, 4 constituencies in Bihar, including, Kishanganj, Bhagalpur, and Purnia ,Katihar will go for elections.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav says BJP’s 400 paar film has become a super flop on the first day itself

Tejashwi Yadav said the INDIA Bloc had held block wise meetings and the feedback that has come is very good that the BJP’s 400 paar film has flopped on day 1 of the Lok Sabha elections. He said the people of Bihar are aware and will teach BJP a lesson.

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After the first phase of the Lok Sabha election got completed, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party and said that the BJP’s 400 paar film has become a super flop on the first day itself. The RJD leader told that the media that there is no competition in the first phase of the elections as Bihar will give shocking results this time.

Yadav added that the Mahagathbandhan is winning all 4 seats in the first phase. He said the INDIA Bloc had held block wise meetings and the feedback that has come is very good that the BJP’s 400 paar film has flopped on day 1 of the Lok Sabha elections. He said the people of Bihar are aware and will teach BJP a lesson.

Tejashwi Yadav said there is no competition in the first phase. He said the people of Bihar will give shocking results this time. He added the BJP government has not done anything for the people of Bihar. He said the promises made by Modi ji in 2014 and 2019 were not fulfilled. Yadav added the public is tired of BJP’s statements and false promises. He said the opposition has promised that they will give a special package to Bihar along with special status.

Tejashwi Yadav said today the rally is with Rahul Gandhi ji in Bhagalpur. The entire INDIA Bloc and the Mahagathbandhan are working together. The RJD leader pointed out that unemployment is the biggest issue in Bihar. He said other important issues being faced by the people of Bihar are poverty, inflation, investment in the state. He said Migration and floods are also issues which need to be looked at.  He added the people of BJP are very worried. He said the people of BJP say that they will abolish the Constitution. He said those who destroy the Constitution will themselves be destroyed.

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