Reported By: Shruti Sethi
A Public Interest Litigation was filed by retired Karnataka High Court judge K Puttaswamy, solicitor general Mohan Parasaran and additional solicitor general L Nageswar Rao to put resistance against the Adhaar card. It was pointed out by Senior counsel Anil Divan and counsel Ankit Goel that Aadhaar scheme is unconstitutional as it leads to complete infraction of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). They brought to the Courts notice that under this scheme applicants are required to part with personal information on biometrics, iris and fingerprints which infringing their right to privacy, which is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.
However the Centre through Solicitor-General, Mohan Parasaran and Additional Solicitor-General L. Nageswara Rao asserted that Aadhaar card was voluntary and not mandatory and therefore not against the Fundamental Rights granted by Part III of the Constitution.
The reality, however, is that unique identification number (UID) under Adhaar scheme has been linked with food security under the new Food Security Act, LPG subsidy, the Employees’ Provident Fund and other direct transfer of benefits which practically renders it mandatory. Further, it has also been alleged that Aadhaar numbers were being given indiscriminately, including to migrants without papers, creating a serious threat to national security.
Senior Counsel Anil Divan and Counsel Ankit Goel also said that the executive order to bring Adhaar Cards was “mala fide” as the whole object of rushing through the Aadhaar scheme was to “secure political gains.” Aadhaar resulted in denial of many benefits and services to persons who were otherwise eligible. They cited payment of salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff in Maharashtra only on the basis of Aadhaar, registration of marriages in Jharkhand and restriction of LPG connections.
The situation created by introduction of the Adhaar scheme was such that even after being formally “voluntary” it was rendered mandatory. Such an issue required a meticulous judicial examination by the Supreme Court since it raised questions not only over the government’s authority to implement the scheme, but also highlighted the perils of the manner of its implementation.
In light of the above arguments the bench comprising of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde held that “Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory. If anyone applies for Aadhaar card, then you have to verify whether he is a citizen of India or not. These cards cannot be issued to illegal migrants,” also they frowned upon the unique identity numbers being issued without verifying the antecedents of individuals.