Aadhaar Case: The Supreme Court’s verdict in Aadhaar case would have huge implications for all citizens of the country. There are several issues pertaining to Aadhaar that need clarity and assurance from the government. In the last two-three years, Modi government has taken several steps to make Aadhaar one of the most important tools of governance. With increasing digitalisation, Aadhaar in 2017 has almost become mandatory for all services. But then there are some questions also. Here we take a look at some of them:
1. Is Aadhaar scheme valid or does it violate the Constitution?
The reliability of Aadhaar database has been questioned. While opinion makers and experts have called for fresh audit of the database, the bigger question in front of the SC is whether Aadhaar scheme is valid at all?
The Supreme Court is hearing the plea challenging the Aadhaar Act and the mandatory use of UID number for several government schemes. Aadhaar initially had no legal backing during the UPA government. The NDA formed Aadhaar Act 2016 but took the Money Bill route, saving it from the scrutiny of Rajya Sabha, which cannot be called a good precedent for India’s democracy.
2. Does Aadhaar infringe on people’s privacy and whether privacy is a Fundamental Right?
It has been claimed by many that Aadhaar infringes on the right to privacy of individuals. In past, the Supreme Court has ruled that privacy is not a fundamental right. The apex court has now set up a nine-judge bench to settle this debate and examine its past judgements. A smaller bench would be set up later to decide the Aadhaar case.
3. Is the government justified in making Aadhaar mandatory for all services, including linking it with the PAN card?
Does the government have the right to impose anything on people? What about the citizens who do not want to avail Aadhaar services? The SC is expected to answer these doubts.
Interestingly, the government has never claimed in Supreme Court that Aadhaar is mandatory. But it has taken measures to make it virtually mandatory.
4. Is the government justified in making fundamental changes to the Constitution by trying to bind all citizens with an individual number each?
Aadhaar scheme is altering the Constitution. For the first time, the government has personal information about all citizens of the country. The SC would decide if this is justified under the original scheme of the constitution.
5. Does the government have the right to keep bio-metric data of all citizens? What happens in case of breach?
Apart from privacy, the biggest question surrounding Aadhaar is security. Indians are used to the ineptness of the government in doing things properly. Should they trust the government with their personal bio-metric data? If SC upholds the validity of the Aadhaar scheme, it may have to ensure that the Centre comes up with a fool-proof mechanism to secure Aadhaar database.