New Delhi: While upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme, the Supreme Court has ruled that Aadhaar Act doesn’t violate your right to privacy when you agree to share biometric data. Private entities have been barred from using Aadhaar card for KYC authentication purposes but you will still need Aadhaar for various other purposes including PAN card and ITR filing. The government has welcomed the Supreme Court ruling with finance minister Arun Jaitley saying that the use of Aadhaar has helped the government save ₹ 90,000 crore in a year through targeting of beneficiaries and plugging leakages.
Here is all you need to know about the implications of the Aadhaar verdict:
1. A 5-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra ruled that Aadhaar is mandatory for filing of income tax returns (ITR) and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN). So if you are a tax payer or want a PAN card then you cannot run away from Aadhaar.
2. Most commercial banks, payments bank and e-wallet companies like Paytm had so far been insisting customers to get their KYC done using Aadhaar card and had warned account holders that their services will be blocked in case of failure. Now they cannot seek Aadhaar data. You would still need to fulfil other KYC criteria but Aadhaar authentication for bank accounts is now a thing of the past.
3. To buy a new SIM card, your telecom service provider cannot seek Aadhaar details from you. Just provide other KYC documents like Voter ID card, driving license, etc to get a new SIM card. Justice Chandrachud has favoured deletion of consumers’ Aadhaar data by mobile service providers.
4. Students of CBSE, NEET, UGC also do not require Aadhaar number to appear in exams. Even schools cannot seek Aadhaar card for admissions.
5. Aadhaar card is however must for availing facilities of welfare schemes and government subsidies as it empowers the poor and marginalised.
6. The Supreme Court has made exception for children saying that no child can be denied benefits of any scheme if he or she doesn’t have Aadhaar card.
7. The apex court has struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act as “unconstitutional". This means that no company or private entity can seek Aadhaar identification from you.
8. The constitution bench of the top court has also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar Act. This will indirectly ensure greater privacy of individual’s Aadhaar data while restricting the government accessibility to it.
9. Justice Sikri, while reading out the Supreme Court judgement, said Aadhaar would not lead to a surveillance state because the data was kept in silos. The program’s invasion of privacy was minimal and served a much larger public interest by providing identities to India’s poor and marginalized citizens, Sikri said.
10. After going through the Aadhaar scheme and structure, it is difficult to profile a person on the basis of minimal biometric information collected, the court said.