The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme by 4:1, saying it serves a larger public interest and empowers the marginalised sections. However, it struck down some of the provisions including linking Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.
The BJP called it a big victory for the ‘pro-poor Modi government’ and took on the Congress saying it favoured middlemen while the Modi government brought Aadhaar to ensure that benefits are given directly to people. “The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and has also said that it does not violate privacy,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said. He further hailed the Supreme Court for standing with the poor of the country.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — who addressed a press conference later — hailed the judgment as historic. The union law minister said the apex court’s decision is pro-poor and it will promote dignity, not surveillance. UIDAI Ajay Bhushan Pandey was also present in the PC.
The Congress, meanwhile, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 57 of the Aadhaar act, which allowed private entities to access Aadhaar data, and termed it a ‘slap on the face of BJP’. “By striking down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, Supreme Court has firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhaar by the Central Government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.
However, he went on to reiterate the Congress’ concern of violation of the people’s right to privacy saying, “The passage of the law violates both the fundamental right to privacy and is a gross abuse of the Money Bill route.”
By striking down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, Supreme Court has firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of #Aadhaar by the Central Government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA: Kapil Sibal, Congress pic.twitter.com/n5TXETY2gT
— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2018
Reacting to the verdict, former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee said it was an overall good judgment. “I think on the whole it is a good judgement. Though personally, I am happy with Justice Chandrachud’s judgement striking it down on the ground that it bothers right to privacy,” ANI quoted Sorabjee as saying.
I think on the whole it is a good judgement. Though personally, I am happy with Justice Chandrachud’s judgement striking it down on the ground that it bothers right to privacy: Former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee on #Aadhaar verdict pic.twitter.com/8F8AxhLmbI
— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2018
Calling it a remarkable judgment, Attorney General KK Venugopal welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. “I am very happy with the judgement. It is a landmark and remarkable judgment,” he said.
TMC leader Derek O’Brien hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling saying their party’s stance has been vindicated as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had openly challenged the Aadhaar scheme. “I’m glad the SC said what it said on data privacy and data protection. That is also something we need to take a close look at so the BJP cannot make it into a policed state.”
Supreme Court advocate Apar Gupta, who works on privacy matters, meanwhile, said the legitimacy of the Aadhaar Act has been undermined. “This project has little or no legitimacy left. Massive legislative and structural changes will be required,” Gupta tweeted.
He further said, “Today’s judgement as read out in court signals massive changes in the Aadhaar project and the Act. The legitimacy of its stated purposes is destroyed. Even the majority signals significant concern by reading down portions.”
The legitimacy of the Aadhaar Act has been undermined. This project has little or no legitimacy left. Massive legislative and structural changes will be required. I will be writing on bits of the judgement in the coming weeks.
— Apar Gupta (@apargupta84) September 26, 2018
Speaking outside court, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the Aadhaar verdict has come as a major relief since it is no longer mandatory to have the unique ID for everything. Bhushan said there was a difference in opinion over whether the legislation could have been passed as a Money Bill and that Justice Chandrachud’s judgment is a very strong comment on how the bill was passed by Parliament.