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Supreme Court’s Aadhar Act Verdict: A Setback for the NDA Government

Supreme Court’s verdict on the 31 petitions that challenge the constitutional validity of the Aadhar Act is out. A bench of five judges that Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra headed, ruled that the Aadhar will remain prevalent, however, it will be subject to certain terms and conditions. The other part of this bench included Justice AM Khanwilker, Justice A K Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan, and Justice D Y Chandrachud. After months of anticipation, The Supreme Court of India has declared that the Aadhar ID is constitutionally valid. However, that’s just half of the story. The other half of it is disappointing for the NDA government. The Aadhar Verdict is full of surprises. In case you were wondering how this will impact you, here are a few significant takeaways from the Supreme Court’s Verdict around Aadhar Card.

Linking the Aadhar Card
As per the Supreme Court’s latest judgment you no longer need to link your Aadhar Card with your bank accounts or your phone numbers. This practically means that private companies cannot push its customers to share their Aadhar Card details with them. Linking of Aadhar Card to phone numbers and bank accounts cannot be legally made mandatory, in fact, it has been made unconstitutional. Hence the section 57 of the Aadhar Act has been struck off by the Supreme Court. While linking your Aadhar Card with bank accounts and phone numbers is not needed anymore, the Supreme Court made linking of the Aadhar Card with your PAN Card Mandatory.  Hence it upheld Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act. It also declared that quoting Aadhar Card number while filing of the Income Tax Return is essential. The Supreme Court striked off Section 33 (2) from the Aadhar Card Act. This act was dedicated to disclosing identity information and authentication of records mandatory for national security. However, it has still kept a strong door open in the national interest. As per the Supreme Court, an authority higher than a Joint Secretary is permitted to make a call on whether or not data has to be shared. There must be a prior consultation between a retired or sitting judge and a secretary-level officer to decide whether or not data sharing is required in the interest of the nation. A Judicial warrant is now required to get the access of data of the person under investigation.

Aadhar Card Disclosure for School Admissions
As per the Supreme Court’s judgment, Aadhar Card disclosure for school admissions is not mandatory anymore. CBSE, NEET, and UGC are not allowed to make Aadhar compulsory to enroll children. Children cannot be deprived of the benefits associated with any schemes if they don’t disclose their Aadhar ID. Children have the option of opting out of Aadhar benefits once they are adults. For the purpose of enrollment of children into the Aadhar System, it is mandatory that the permission of their parents is taken.

Aadhar Card Empowers Marginalised Sections
The Aadhar Card is meant to empower marginalised sections of the society and gives them the identity they need. In response to the 31 petitions challenging the Aadhar Card Act on the grounds of violating privacy, the Supreme Court announced that the Aadhar Card which is the national identity card stands constitutionally valid.

Aadhar Card is Not for Illegal Immigrants
The Supreme Court has asked the government to ensure that illegal immigrants are prohibited from enjoying the benefits of an Aadhar Card.

Private Firms Cannot Have Access to Aadhar Data
The Supreme Court has barred the data sharing with private body corporates by striking of Section 57 of the Aadhar Act.  The term body corporate as specified in Section 2(11) of Companies Act comprises a public company, a private company, small company, limited liability partnerships, foreign company, one-person company, etc.

Data Protection and Safety
The Supreme Court announced that authentication records are not permitted to be stored for more than a period of 6 months. The law is not in favour of data retention for five years. Section 2 (d) of the Aadhar Act is supposed to exclude the metadata of transactions. The Supreme Court directed the government in force to enforce a better and a well-planned data protection law as soon as possible that adequately protects data.

Aadhar Card has been constitutionally valid and is a must to hold an Aadhar Card to avail government facilities, government subsidies, and welfare schemes. The Supreme Court’s Aadhar Act verdict all in all is a severe setback to the NDA government and its intentions to curb money laundering. However, it still suffices the government’s intention to offer a form of largely implemented national ID and its intentions towards empowering the marginalised and the poor. The Aadhar Act remains in the scene benefitting the nation’s human force massively deep and right from the ground level.

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