CALLING THE Supreme Court’s verdict “historic”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said “it’s a great step forward in the use of technology in governance”. The BJP also targeted the Congress, saying the party “cuts a sorry figure” and stands “exposed and defeated”.
Pointing out that the government and country cannot allow itself to be “bypassed” by the great opportunity that technology provides, Jaitley said the Aadhaar programme has already helped the country save Rs 90,000 crore every year by plugging leakages in welfare schemes. Jaitley did not clarify on the clauses that have been struck down by the court, but indicated that the government may have to back certain provisions with a law to make it legitimate.
“Section 57 says there can be special enabling power to allow other entities or corporate body (to use Aadhaar). I can give you my information. That is not permissible unless it is backed by law. That seems to be the spirit of the judgment,” he said.
“We were breaking new ground, venturing into unchartered area. One of the purposes of judicial review is that what is the direction you can move and how much… I am not going by what’s been reported in the media, it says, some areas we can go, some areas, they have to be backed by law. That’s the technical issue. We will study the judgment.. Its a great step forward in use of technology in governance,” Jaitley said.
Union Law & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Supreme Court has held that the purpose of issuing Aadhaar to all Indian citizens is legitimate and no surveillance is possible. “Its a 4-1 judgment, which is a very important factor. This judgment is a judgment of empowering democracy, good governance, service delivery and also empowering the ordinary Indian,” he said.
BJP chief Amit Shah used the verdict to target the Congress. “Congress, being the fountainhead of middlemen and corruption, tried every trick to fight and defeat Aadhaar, politically and legally. They tried to mislead people on various grounds, including scare-mongering on privacy. Today they stand exposed and defeated,” he tweeted.
“Let us first read the judgment. There are two-three prohibited areas. Are they because they are totally prohibited or are they because they need legal backing… the generic answer will depend on what is the rationale. For instance, on these private entities, it needs to be backed by law. That’s my understanding,” said Jaitley. “The prohibited areas, do not assume they are perpetually prohibited — they could be procedurally prohibited or they could be prohibited as such.”
Jaitley also slammed the Congress. “Obviously, the Congress party cuts a very sorry figure. They introduced the idea, then did not know what to do with it,” he said.