There was a hue and cry over the Aadhar verdict on 26th Sept 2018 by The Supreme Court in India. The media, the opposition and some activists celebrated the verdict as their victory over the government’s “atrocity” of collecting personal data that could possibly be misused.
The judgment was pronounced by a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. Justice Chandrachud dissented from the majority. Followings are the key points from the verdict
Private entities cannot avail your Aadhaar data – The Supreme Court struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act and said that private companies, individuals cannot insist on Aadhaar data to provide consumer services.
Aadhaar data can’t be shared with security agencies – The Supreme Court removed Section 33 (2) which means that your Aadhaar data cannot be shared with security agencies in the name of upholding national security.
Individuals too can complain about theft of Aadhaar data – Updated Section 47 of the Aadhaar Act about the theft of Aadhaar data. Along with Government of India, now private individual too can complain about it.
Additionally, Supreme Court pronounced that:
Private firms (private bank, telephone service providers, schools, etc..) cannot insist for Aadhaar information for delivering their services.
Aadhaar, however, is mandatory to be linked with PAN card and for filing of income tax returns
The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act and scheme by a 4:1 majority. It said that the government cannot compel individuals to use Aadhaar as the sole identification tool. The court also ruled that private entities and corporates cannot hoard Aadhaar data.
The Supreme Court verdict on the Aadhaar Act, undermines the legitimacy of the Act, but observed that massive legislative and structural changes will be needed. The Supreme Course will be writing on bits of the judgement in the coming weeks.
Supreme Court has, however, noted that Aadhaar empowers the marginalised society. Justice sikri categorically mentioned, “lot of people who will benefit due to inclusion cannot be denied due to exclusion of few; Can’t throw baby out with bathwater. It is better to be unique than to be best. Fundamental difference from UID and other IDs. Uniqueness of UID is the difference as claimed by Government of India. Empowers marginalised section of societies as it gives identity to such persons.”
We are presenting different views offered by Ms Sandhya Jane, an author, who quoted, “Nothing is private when you start using your smartphone for communicating with others through phone calls, social media or text messengers. Private companies (service providers) are the biggest data collectors and users (or misusers). When you travel abroad your record is already created and shared by multiple agencies globally. When you accept free voice or data services from a telecom company, you already agreed to give away personal data. Data is the new oil and the service providers know that.”
Regarding the misuse of personal data by the Indian government she said, “The Indian government already has access to a lot of data like the Aadhar card, Ration Card, PAN, TAN, tax details in India and abroad through multiple agencies. The government aims to seek the welfare of the civilians and fulfill their needs for betterment of the nation, not a profit making venture.”