This case is one of the landmark cases in the history of India. This case is popularly known as the AADHAAR case. This case mainly deals with the constitutional validity of the fundamental right I.e. the Right To Privacy and it also deals about the validity of AADHAAR in our lives. This case is considered one of the lengthiest and longest-running cases in the history of the Supreme Court of India.
The issue of this case or the challenges regarding this case can be divided into two parts; first, the challenges to Executive's Scheme dated 28.01.2009, notified by the Government of India, by which the Unique Identification Authority of India also referred as UIDAI was constituted to implement the UIDAI scheme. Secondly, the challenge to the AADHAAR Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services Act 2016.
AADHAAR being the crucial factor of the case, let us analyze the meaning of it or what does it aim. Unique makes you the only one is the central message of AADHAAR and it is the altar facing a constitutional challenge in these petitions. National Identity Project was authorised by UIDAI. In simple words, in AADHAAR, the biometric information of Indian residents are collected like the fingerprint scan, retina scan, facial scan etc, and also demographic information is collected and thereby a twelve-digit unique identification number is given. The main aim of the AADHAAR was to enhance efficiency in public service and to curb corruption. The information was stored by the Government of India. Later on, the Government started to use AADHAAR in a compulsory form and in a mandatory way in different welfare schemes such as Public Distribution System Schemes, Mid Day Meal Schemes, MGNREA Scheme etc. However, after this step of Government, a lot of debates and disputes took place among the citizens. The step by Government regarding AADHAAR faced a lot of criticism from the different sections of the society. According to the people, use of AADHAAR in such a way was a serious invasion into the right to privacy of persons and it tended to lead to a surveillance state where every individual would be kept under surveillance.
In the year 2012, the honourable retired judge of Karnataka High Court, Justice K.S Puttaswamy and Mr Pravesh Khanna filed a writ petition before the honourable Supreme Court of India. In the writ petition, the AADHAAR Scheme was challenged on the ground of violation of fundamental rights of the innumerable citizens of India namely the Right to Privacy which is falling under the scope of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. However, at that, the AADHAAR was not under legislative authority. In a counter-affidavit filed by the Union of India as well as UIDAI, the respondent stated that Right to Privacy is not guaranteed under the scope of a fundamental right or in the Constitution of India. To establish their detention, they referred to the eight bench judge judgment in MP Sharma and 4 others v Satish Chandra District Magistrate Delhi and 40 others.
On the 11th of August 2015, this matter was first heard by a three-judge bench who felt it appropriate to refer it to a Constitutional bench. A five-judge bench was set up to look on this case. On the 18th of July, 2017, the five-judge bench after considering the matters of the case referred the same to a nine-judge bench.
The nine-judge bench started looking into the facts of the case again. At first instance, they started to analyze what is the structure of AADHAAR and how does it operate. The AADHAAR was mainly the unique identity to the Indian citizens. Section 2 of the AADHAAR Act 2016, contained the definition of AADHAAR and other certain definitions that were required to be analysed. The Act of 2016, also contained a certain provision which gave power to the government to update the biometric and demographic information of the AADHAAR holders. The main purpose of such collection was to update the unique information of citizens. The Court also looked upon the detention of the petitioners. The petitioners mainly stated that AADHAAR was violating the privacy, and eventually leading to a totalitarian state. When in the year 2016, AADHAAR Act was passed several other petitions along with the petition of K.S. Puttaswamy was also filed by stating that such schemes were affecting the democratic nature of the country. The respondents in this regard have stated that minimal information had been stored in CIDR. It was stored mainly for authentication and no other data are stored. The Court also opined that the main plank of the challenge is that in the AADHAAR Project, there is an infringement of privacy. The view of Justice Nariman stated that a person himself or herself guards the rights related to one's physical body. He further stated that human dignity is treated not only as a facet of Article 21, 14 but also Article 21. , Thus, privacy as a right is intrinsic of freedom, liberty and dignity. It has both a positive and negative aspect. The negative content restrictions on the State from committing an intrusion in private life and in positive it imposes an obligation on State to take all necessary measures to protect the privacy of the individual. And other judges also gave a similar view.
Finally, the nine-judge bench of the honourable Supreme Court of India gave a unanimous judgment regarding the case. They stated that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right that is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and it is also an integral part of Article 14, Article 19. The Supreme Court also overruled the judgment that was previously given in Kharak Singh v State of UP Case, MP Sharma v Union of India case, where it was stated that Right to Privacy is not guaranteed under Constitution. The SC also stated that sexual orientation and the right to food falls under the ambit of Right to Privacy. The Court also laid down a triple test to analyse if any scheme is invading privacy. The triple test is the test of the existence of the law, A legitimate state interest and test of proportionality. On this test, the AADHAAR was declared constitutional. This judgment has also put a great impact on the decriminalisation of Section 377.