Congress Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which allowed private entities to access Aadhaar data, saying it would put an end to the abuse of power by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. The party said the decision would throw a spanner in the government’s works as BJP was pushing its agenda of mass surveillance through intimidation of private companies that were insisting on Aadhaar details.
Calling Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act the government’s “surveillance tool”, Congress said, “By striking it down, the SC has firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhar by the Central government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA.”
The majority judgment in the Aadhaar case has retrieved the UPA’s original idea of Aadhaar. Aadhaar was meant to be a benign instrument to deliver benefits, subsidies and services to the poor. Glad that the UPA’s policy has been vindicated.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) September 26, 2018
In a statement, released by Congress leaders Kapil Sibal, Ashok Gehlot and Randeep Singh Surjewala, the party said it was the first time that a Constitutional Bench had unanimously agreed that the decisions of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha could be subject to judicial review. “This is the very first time that a Constitutional Bench has held so. This marks the beginning of a new era of accountability for the Speaker, who so far was beyond reproach,” Congress said.
The brainchild of the UPA government, the Aadhaar Bill was passed by the Narendra Modi government in 2016 in the Lok Sabha as a Money Bill. However, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh challenged the manner in which the Aaadhar Act was passed and the case was clubbed with the petitions.
For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment.
For the BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance.
Thank you Supreme Court for supporting the Congress vision and protecting 🇮🇳. #AadhaarVerdict
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 26, 2018
While the majority judgment held that the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, was constitutionally valid, Justice M Y Chandrachud struck a dissenting note, saying the Act should not have been passed as a Money Bill as it amounted to a fraud on the Constitution and was liable to be struck down.
Latching on to Chandrachud’s ruling, Congress said it was a scathing indictment of the BJP government’s “clandestine” and “dishonest” approach to its parliamentary responsibilities. “This opens the door for several challenges to the Speakers arbitrary decisions and has effectively changed that law as it existed on the subject,” the statement said.
Calling the BJP’s version of the Aadhaar Act “draconian” and “invasive”, Congress alleged that about 25 people died of starvation from denial of benefits in the last four years. “An insensitive BJP government had insisted on Aadhaar for schemes targeting the poorest of the poor. The Congress Party will continue to fight for the causes of the poor and disenfranchised,” the statement said.