Submitted by Nikita, SY BBA LLB
The Central Government introduced the Aadhaar Card in 2011. A new agency, the “Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI),” was created to issue the card. Aadhaar is a 12-digit, one-of-a-kind identification number. Aadhaar was meant to be the principal identifying number for all residents who are residing in India lawfully according to the government. It has offered Aadhaar free of charge for all legal residents. “In order to apply for the card, residents must submit their biometric data, which includes a scan of their fingerprints as well as retinas,” as stated by the authorities. The UIDAI is in charge of accumulating this information in a central database. The state has gradually made the Aadhaar Card a requirement for a variety of social programs. Subsidized food through the “Public Distribution System and the Mid-Day Meal Program,” as well as guaranteed wage labor under the “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme,” is among them.
Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, a retired judge of Honorable Karnataka High Court, had challenged the Aadhaar system in the Supreme Court. He believed that Aadhaar violated the Constitution’s protection of fundamental rights.
His main grievances were that the government had not implemented appropriate privacy measures. Any private entity may seek Aadhaar authentication for any reason, subject to UIDAI regulations. There are not any limitations on the government’s ability to exploit biometric data acquired.
Individual entitlements given by the state’s social sector programs are fundamental rights in and of themselves. They cannot be restricted for any reason, including failing to present an Aadhaar card or number while seeking benefits.
The Court handed down its decision on September 26th, 2018. It affirmed the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act. It was ruled that the Act gives power to disenfranchised members of the state by improving their access to fundamental rights like State subsidies.
Although the Act was enacted as a Money Bill, the Court found that the Parliament had adequately passed it. “The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act, 2016,” was upheld by a 4:1 majority. While the Act as a whole was found to be constitutional, individual portions were found to be invalid. According to the Court, “The Act does not infringe the basic rights protected by Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.”