SC reserves judgment on pleas challenging Aadhaar
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed all the parties concerned to file their written submissions to put forth their case.
The judgment was reserved after a marathon hearing which went on for 38 days spanning four months.
A battery of lawyers including Attorney General KK Venugopal, who represented the Centre and senior advocates like Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Rakesh Dwivedi, Shyam Divan, Arvind Datar, Rakesh Dwivedi had appeared for various parties.
The constitution bench also comprised Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
Centre’s stand vis-a-vis Aadhaar
During the arguments spread over four months, the Centre had strongly defended its decision to seed Aadhaar numbers with mobile phones, telling the top court that it could have been hauled up for contempt if the verification of mobile users was not undertaken by it.
However, the court had said that the government had misinterpreted its order and used it as a “tool” to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users.Former Karnataka High Court judge Justice KS Puttaswamy and other petitioners had challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.
The court had also not agreed with the government’s contention that the Aadhaar law was correctly termed as a Money Bill by the Lok Sabha Speaker as it dealt with “targeted delivery of subsidies” for which funds came from the Consolidated Fund of India.
The court was examining the contention that the 12-digit Unique Identification number given out to 1.2 billion Indians, violates the Right to Privacy, which was named a fundamental right by the top court last year.
The government had made Aadhaar compulsory for a host of services and welfare measures, including bank accounts, PAN cards, cellphone services, passport and even driving licenses. It was made the over-arching proof of identity and residence, over-riding all other prior identity proofs.
The petitioners argued that Aadhaar — built on a mammoth biometric database comprising fingerprints and iris scans — cannot be made mandatory. They also contended that this huge database was open to compromise, citing a number of instances of data breach that had triggered a huge debate.