Aadhaar not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile connections

Aadhaar not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile connections

New Delhi - Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the verdict.


Published: Wed 26 Sep 2018, 10:14 AM

Last updated: Thu 27 Sep 2018, 12:51 AM

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday by a 4:1 majority judgement upheld the legality of Aadhaar for use only in government-funded social benefit schemes and PAN and Income Tax Return (ITR) while junking its requirement for mobile phone connections, bank accounts, school admissions and competitive examinations.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that Aadhaar would be voluntary and not mandatory.
The majority judgment, which struck and read down or clarified various provisions of the Aadhaar Act, was read out by Justice A.K. Sikri speaking for Chief Justice Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and himself. Justice Ashok Bhushan delivered a separate but concurring judgment.
Rejecting the apprehensions of the petitioners, the majority judgment held that the architecture of Aadhaar as well as the provisions of the Aadhaar Act do not tend to create a surveillance state. "This is ensued by the manner in which the Aadhaar project operates."
In his dissenting judgement, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held that the entire Aadhaar programme since 2009 suffered from constitutional infirmities and violated fundamental rights. The enactment of Aadhaar Act does not save the Aadhaar project.
The Aadhaar Act, the rules and regulations framed under it and the framework prior to the enactment of the Act were unconstitutional. "...if no fresh legislation has been enacted by the union government in conformity with the principles which have been enunciated in this judgment, the data (collected for Aadhaar) shall be destroyed.
Justice Chandrachud said that passing the Aadhaar law as money bill was unconstitutional and a "fraud on the Constitution" because it was not a money bill.
Speaking for the majority, Justice Sikri said linking of Aadhaar for opening and with existing bank accounts, getting a mobile number, appearing for CBSE, NEET, JEE, UGC examinations and admission in schools was not mandatory.
The court in its 1,448 page judgement said the government's notification that rendered bank accounts inoperable for not being linked with Aadhaar amounted to depriving a person of his property rights.
"We find that this move of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank account does not satisfy the test of proportionality," said the majority judgment.
The court in its majority judgment said that on attaining the age of majority, children enrolled under Aadhaar with the consent of their parents shall be given the option to exit from the Aadhaar project if they do not intend to avail the benefits of the government schemes. The requirement of Aadhaar for admission of children to school will not be compulsory as it was "neither a service nor subsidy" and "a child between the age of 6 and 14 years has the fundamental right to education under Article 21A of the Constitution".
The school admission cannot be treated as 'benefit' as well, the verdict said.
However, the majority of the bench held that Aadhaar was valid for linking with Income Tax returns. On the disclosure of the information including, identity, information or authentication records, the court said that the person "whose information is sought to be released, shall be afforded an opportunity of hearing.
If such an order is passed, in that eventuality, he shall also have right to challenge such an order passed by approaching the higher court".

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