SC Aadhaar Verdict: What It Means For You

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No To Aadhaar Biometric Data For Crime Investigations

Aadhaar is constitutionally valid and you will still need an Aadhaar card.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhar 4-1, but put some vital conditions. Here is what today’s verdict means for you.

What if I do not have an Aadhaar?

You need to get one as it is mandatory to link it with PAN card as well as  for filing of income tax returns which is mandatory even for those who have a zero income.

For those who have an Aadhaar card, there isn’t much that you need to do for now. You need to wait for the finer details of what happens to your data that has been shared with banks and mobile/telecom service providers among other private companies such as PayTM.

Where all do you need to submit your Aadhaar?

Nobody can be denied benefits by the government for not having an Aadhaar number. This means even if you do not have Aadhaar, you can still apply for a gas connection or ration card. But if you need the subsidy, you will need Aadhaar (Explained later).

Private companies cannot seek Aadhaar data. You can now get a SIM card without validating your Aadhaar number via a thumb impression. Private company cannot force you to  submit your Aadhaar data to purchase or avail of a service.

No To Aadhaar Biometric Data For Crime InvestigationsBanks and other financial institutions cannot seek Aadhaar data. This means no bank can threaten to freeze your account if you do not furnish your Aadhaar number. But there is a catch (Explained later).

Educational institutes cannot seek Aadhaar during admissions in schools saying consent of parents is essential.

UGC, NEET, CBSE cannot ask for Aadhaar. If a child subscribes to the mid-day meal scheme, then the child should be allowed to withdraw consent once he/she attains adulthood.

Where is Aadhaar required?

The court has upheld Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act which stated Aadhar is mandatory for any government scheme that draws out of the consolidated fund of India. This means that if you want to avail benefits such as ration, LPG subsidy, MGNREGA, you have to furnish your Aadhaar number or your Aadhaar enrolment ID.

An individual has to furnish their Aadhaar number or the enrolment ID while filing Income Tax returns. It has also made Aadhaar-PAN card linking mandatory as well as the requirement of Aadhaar when applying for PAN card. This will be an indirect link to banks, where PAN card number is mandatory.

What of the Aadhaar Act has the court read/struck down?

Section 33(1) read down. This section allows disclosure of information, including identity and authentication records, if ordered by a court not inferior to that of a District Judge. Reading down this sub-section, the SC said individuals should be given the opportunity of a hearing.

Section 33(2) of the Act struck down. This section allowed identity and authentication data to be disclosed in the interest of national security on direction of an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India.

Section 47 of the Aadhaar Act struck down. Under this Section, no individual was allowed to file a complaint if he/she felt their data was leaked or misused. The law only allowed the court to take cognizance of a complaint filed by UIDAI or anyone authorised by it. The court ruled that exclusion of individuals from filing complaints was arbitrary. Therefore, any individual will now be allowed to file a complaint if he/she feels their data has been compromised.

Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act unconstitutional. It was under this provision that private companies like Paytm and Airtel Payments Bank sought Aadhaar details from customers.

Authentication record should not be kept beyond the period of six months and the provision that allowed archive records for five years struck down. It has excluded storage of meta data of transactions by individuals. This means UIDAI cannot collect data sets and mine it for more data or analysis. It has also struck down data sharing with corporates. The Supreme Court also called for Parliament to draft and pass a data protection law immediately.