The Congress welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict and said the government would now have to bring amendments to the Aadhaar Act to comply with the court’s directions. The party said it would approach the apex court again if the amendment Bill is classified as a Money Bill.
The CPI(M) said the Supreme Court’s “so-called safeguards” will prove to be ineffective as the majority judgment maintained Aadhaar as mandatory. Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hailed the verdict, saying not linking Aadhaar to mobile phones, bank accounts and other services was a great relief for the common man.
Targeting the government, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment. For the BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance.” He thanked the apex court for “supporting the Congress vision and protecting” India.
Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram tweeted, “The NDA tried to convert Aadhaar into a monster that will rule every aspect of a person’s life. And the NDA has been firmly rebuffed.” Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal pointed out that the majority judgment has unanimously agreed that the decisions of Lok Sabha Speaker can be subject to judicial review. “This is the very first time that a Constitutional Bench has held so. That is a landmark decision…This marks the beginning of a new era of accountability for the Speaker… The Supreme Court has upheld the arguments put forth by the Congress,” he said.
“It is important because in the coming days the government will have amend this Act. That is what the Supreme Court has said. And when it happens, the same Finance Minister, the Speaker will say that it is a Money Bill. And when it happens, we will approach the Court again….saying the amendment Bill is not a Money Bill and if today’s judgement, if it is coming in the way, it should be quashed and referred to a 7-Judge Bench,” he said. “We are inclined to agree with Justice Chandrachud on the fact that the Act, per se, is an illegality,” he said.
He added that the Congress could also approach the Supreme Court seeking deletion of the data already in the hands of private players. “…and if a company is found not to have destroyed it…then you set up mechanisms to initiate proceedings against such companies,” he said.
Commenting on the court striking down Section 57, which permitted private entities to avail of the biometric data, senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said it was a “slap on the face of BJP”.
The CPM Politburo said Aadhaar should not be mandatory for any welfare scheme. “Unfortunately, the majority judgment of the Supreme Court continues to maintain Aadhaar as mandatory. The Supreme Court’s so-called safeguards will prove to be ineffective,” it said.
Senior CPI leader D Raja said the government will have to propose amendments to protect right to privacy, use of biometrics and data protection.