In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court last month upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, while reading down several sections of the Aadhaar Act. Striking down parts of Section 57, the apex court barred the use of Aadhaar biometrics data by private companies such as banks, mobile companies etc; however, several media reports said that some private companies are still asking for Aadhaar card or Aadhaar number for verification.
For clarity on the Aadhaar verdict, FE Online spoke to legal expert L Badri Narayanan, who said that the top court has “categorically” held that private companies cannot demand Aadhaar card or number for providing services. In the case of a customer willing or consenting to use Aadhaar card, it can only be used as an ID or Address proof like other documents but not for biometric verification or e-KYC.
“Aadhar can be submitted by an individual for verification out of his own choice. The judgment does not prohibit the citizen from using Aadhar from using this ID in a particular manner. However, biometric verification cannot be carried out for such use. So, in a sense, an Aadhaar card will be akin to an election ID card or driver’s license or a ration card,” L Badri Narayanan, Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan Attorneys told FE Online.
Aadhaar can only be demanded by government agencies for subsidies granted by the government and for linking PAN Cards. The Supreme Court by a majority decision struck down parts of Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which enabled corporations and individuals to seek authentication.
“The Court has specifically held that this would impinge upon the Right to Privacy of such individuals and thus, declared it unconstitutional. This means that companies would not be able to ask for Aadhaar authentication and cannot make it mandatory,” Narayanan added.
Meanwhile, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on October 1 asked telecom companies to submit a plan to stop using the 12-digit unique ID number for customer authentication in 15 days. A circular was issued to the telecom service providers (TSPs), including Bharati Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and others, news agency PTI reported.