NEW DELHI: A decision on whether Aadhaar, or the national identity card, violates the Constitution, will be declared by five senior most judges of the Supreme Court today. For a record 38 days, the Supreme Court heard some 27 petitions that had challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and called it a violation of the right to privacy.
Following are the top 10 developments in this big story:
- Over one billion Indians have already signed up for Aadhaar, set up to be a secure form of digital identification for citizens to be used for government services.
- The 12-digit Unique Identification Number was made compulsory for services including bank accounts, PAN cards, cellphone services, passport and even driving licenses.
- It was made the overarching proof of identity and residence, overriding all other prior identity proofs.
- But as it was rolled out, there were concerns about privacy, data security and recourse for citizens in the face of data leaks.
- Petitioners said Aadhaar — built on a mammoth biometric database comprising fingerprints and iris scans — cannot be made mandatory.
- The huge Aadhaar database can easily be compromised, petitioners had said, pointing out that a law that “impacts human life can’t remain a law”.
- The Centre had defended Aadhaar on several grounds – the biggest being that it ensured proper distribution of benefits to millions and prevented siphoning of funds. Aadhaar data, government and Aadhaar authority UIADI contended, is safe and cannot be breached.
- Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come out in defence of Aadhaar, saying it represented the march of technology and those opposing it “have lagged behind in technology — either they cannot understand or are purposely spreading lies”.
- Hearing in the case started in January and went on for 38 days – making it the second longest after the crucial Keshavananda Bharti case, which questioned if parliament’s power to amend the Constitution was unlimited, to the extent of taking away all fundamental rights. The hearing went on for five months in 1973.
- Last year, the Supreme Court had ruled that the right to privacy is an “intrinsic part of life and personal liberty”, which is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.