What does the supreme court verdict on Aadhaar mean for Indian citizens?


  • The supreme court’s verdict on the Aadhaar Act removed Section 33 (2), Section 47, and Section 57 as being unconstitutional.
  • The court has also directed all private companies to delete their storage of customers’ Aadhaar details.
  • But, the Aadhaar card is still mandatory for all taxpayers since it’s required to file income tax returns (ITR).
The Supreme Court of India (SC) deemed the Aadhaar act to be constitutional yesterday, but did remove sections that it thought violated the right of Indian citizens. And, while participating in the world’s largest biometric database is now voluntary to a certain extent, millions of citizens have already enrolled and submitted their authentication details to third parties.

That being said, the supreme court has directed telecom operators and banks to delete the biometric data that they had collected from their customers so far. It even cited the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) circular on the re-verification of phone numbers with Aadhaar details as unconstitutional.


Sections struck down

The SC removed three sections from the Aadhar Act. Section 33 (2) allowed data to be disclosed in the interest of national security. The government or allied institutions could obtain an individual’s biometric data if they were a suspected as threats.

The removal of this section means that are no exceptions to individuals not being forced to disclose their authentication data, which includes their Aadhaar biometrics.

Section 47 was a cause of concern because any Aadhaar data breach would only be recognised as a criminal offence if reported by an officer at the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). With this section off the Aadhaar Act, even individuals have the power to register criminal offences under the legislation.

The removal of Section 57 will probably have the impact on day to day life with it no longer being ‘mandatory’ for citizens to share their data with any third-party. Aadhaar is still a valid form of identification, but it’s no longer a prerequisite to obtaining third-party services.

Basically, any body, corporate or person is no longer allowed to establish the identity of an individual.

Daily hustle

However, taxpayers are still going to be need their Aadhaar details to register for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) and file their income tax returns (ITR). But, there’s no longer a need for people to link their Aadhaar cards to their bank accounts. Banks can longer cite Aadhaar as a prerequisite for know-your-customer (KYC) authentication.

Telecom operators, no only have to delete all that they’ve been hoarding in the past, but even they can’t push for Aadhaar authentication when issuing SIM cards.

In a breath of relief for parents, schools can’t ask for Aadhaar card authentication either. NET, CBSE, and UGC applications no longer need it to appear for their respective examinations. This comes in after NET has been implementing mandatory Aadhaar details, without which the application process wouldn’t be validated.

Children will also be exempted from needing a Aadhaar card on all fronts. Public sector schemes will remain accessible to them even without a card.

The experts and public seem divided on their opinion about these changes. While some think that it’s a step in the right direction, others believe that the dilution of the Aadhaar Act won’t address its underlying problems of privacy.
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