In a 4:1 judgment, 5 membered constitution bench of Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of The Aadhar (Targeted Delivery of monetary and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016 (Hereafter, Aadhar Act). SC was hearing a clutch of petitions filed in the Supreme Court against the Aadhar Scheme of the govt of India, with the initial one filed in 2012 by former Karnataka High court judge K S Puttaswamy.
The Court has held that the architecture of the Aadhaar, because of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, doesn't tend to make a surveillance state. During the enrolment process, minimal biometric data within the sort of iris and fingerprints are collected. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), does not collect the purpose, location, or details of the transaction. Thus, the aim of the transaction isn't stored. The information collected remains in silos. The information is not accessible in combined form. However, the dissenting judge, Justice D Y Chandrachud said that from the verification log, it had been possible to locate the places of transactions administered by a private over the past five years.SC struck down Regulation 27 which provided for archiving transaction data for five years.
The Court ruled that the Aadhar Act passed the test laid down within the Privacy judgment to work out the reasonableness of the invasion of privacy. It held that the Aadhaar scheme is backed by the statute, i.e. the Aadhaar Act. The Court noted that the failure to determine the identity of a private has proved to be a serious problem for successful implementation of these programs as it was becoming difficult to make sure that subsidies, benefits, and services reach the intended beneficiaries within the absence of a reputable system to authenticate the identity of beneficiaries. It also noted that while the challenge to Aadhaar Act is on the idea of dignity as a facet of the right to privacy under Article 21, the rationale behind Section 7 of the Aadhaar act( which makes Aadhar mandatory for state Benefits) is to make sure that right to a lifetime of marginalized are protected by ensuring that they get the advantages of welfare schemes.
The Court upheld the Lok Sabha Speaker's decision to acknowledge the Aadhar Act because of the Money Bill. The Court held the reasoning that the most objective of the Aadhaar Act is to extend benefits in the nature of aid, grant, or subsidy to the marginalized sections of the society with the support of the Consolidated Fund of India.SC upheld the Aadhar for government services by using the Doctrine of Proportionality. The Court upheld the validity of Section 7 of the Act stating that the rationale behind Section 7 is to ensure targeted delivery of services, benefits, and subsidies which are funded from the Consolidated Fund of India.
On the protection of biometric data, the court held that there are sufficient authentication security measures in place. The UIDAI has mandated the use of Registered Devices (RD) for all authentication requests. The machinery which the UIDAI has created for data protection, it had been of the view that it's very difficult to make the profile of an individual simply on the basis of biometric and demographic information stored in Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR). Court also ordered the government to bring out a robust data protection regime on the basis of recommendations of the Justice B N Sri Krishna Committee report. The court struck down Section 33(2) of the Aadhar Act which allows disclosure of data of a user within the interest of national security. Court also read down Section 33(1) of the Aadhar Act which prohibits disclosure of information, including identity and authentication information, except when it is by an order of a district judge or higher court, the court ordered that an individual, whose information is sought, shall be afforded an opportunity of hearing.SC struck down Regulation 26(c), Aadhaar Regulations which allowed UIDAI to store metadata concerning Aadhar based authentications or authentication history for personal firms.
SC upheld Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which mandates linking of Aadhaar to PAN and providing Aadhaar while filing income-tax returns. The circular of the Department of Telecommunications, which mandated Aadhaar-based re-verification of mobile numbers, has been held illegal and unconstitutional.