6th DECEMBER 2018
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
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GS II: GOVERNANCE
Q1. Discuss the major developments in the Aadhar judgment recently given by the Supreme Court of India.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has upheld the validity of Aadhaar but with riders. It has struck down Section 57 that allows private entities to seek Aadhaar data, but has allowed the unique number to be used for government schemes and subsidies. Justice Chandrachud also said Section 7 is unconstitutional. Section 7 makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting state subsidies.The bench observed that technology had become a vital tool for ensuring good governance in a social welfare state. Schemes like PDS, scholarships, mid-day meals, LPG subsidies, involve a huge amount of money and “fool-proof” Aadhaar helped welfare reach the poor.Upholding the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, the Supreme Court said neither were individuals profiled nor their movements traced when Aadhaar was used to avail government benefits under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016. The statute only sought “minimal” biometric information, and this did not amount to invasion of privacy.
- Majority of judges uphold validity of Aadhaar.
- Usage of Aadhaar for targetted subsidies and government schemes approved
- Section 57 that allows private entities to use Aadhaar struck down
- Aadhaar-PAN linkage upheld
- Majority of judges say Aadhaar doesn’t violate right to privacy
The majority opinion upheld the PAN-Aadhaar linkage, but declared linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile SIM cards unconstitutional. The court insulated children from the Aadhaar regime. The card was not necessary for children aged between six and 14 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as right to education was a fundamental right. Statutory bodies like CBSE and UGC cannot ask students to produce their Aadhaar cards for examinations like NEET and JEE. Permission of parents and guardians was a must before enrolling children into Aadhaar, the Supreme Court declared. Children once they attained the age of majority could opt out of Aadhaar, the Supreme Court said. It said it was not trivialising the problem of exclusion faced by the elderly, the very young, the disabled and several others during the authentication process. Authentication was found to be only having a .232% failure, Justice Sikri pointed out. It was accurate 99.76% times, Justice Sikri said. He reasoned that dismantling the scheme would only disturb this 99.76%.The Supreme Court, in its majority opinion, said the remedy was to plug the loopholes rather than axe Aadhaar.
The court further directed the government and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to bring in regulations to prevent rightfully entitled people from being denied benefits.
However, the Supreme Court quashed or read down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act in order to de-fang any possibility of the state misusing data.
For one, the court held that authentication records should not be retained for more than six months. It declared the archiving of records for five years as “bad in law.” It also prohibited the creation of a metabase for transactions.
It read down Section 33 (1), which allowed the disclosure of Aadhaar information on the orders of a District Judge. This cannot be done now without giving the person concerned an opportunity to be heard.
The Supreme Court struck down Section 33(2), which allowed the disclosure of Aadhaar information for national security reasons on the orders of an officer not below a Joint Secretary.
It held that an officer above the Joint Secretary rank should first consult with a judicial officer, possibly a High Court judge, and both should decide whether information need to be disclosed in the national interest.
The court has struck down Section 47, which allows only the UIDAI to file criminal complaints of Aadhaar data breach.
Finally, it quashed that part of Section 57 of the Act which permits private companies from using Aadhaar data to authenticate a person.