In response to a PIL seeking stay on the implementation of the Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Scheme the top court ruling stated that the 23.8 billion dollar scheme, set up by the central government aiming to create a unique identity for each resident of India, through bio-metric – retinal and finger print scans, cannot be made mandatory.
Arguments of the Supreme Court:
a) Many state governments had been trying to make the Aadhaar card compulsory for services such as gas connnections, bank accounts and other such public services. The Maharashtra government had been trying to make the Aadhaar card mandatory for marriage registrations. It infringed on people’s fundamental rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty).
b) Under many instances the Aadhaar cards has been issued to illegal immigrants and it would legitimise their stay in the country. There have been reports of a huge number of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants being issued Aadhaar cards.
c) No citizen should suffer in absence of aadhar number. The Centre and state governments must not insist on Aadhar cards from citizens before providing them essential services.
d) Those opting for Aadhaar are required to give personal information including biometrics, iris and fingerprints, which infringes the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21.
e) The bench was also informed that there were no safeguard to protect the personal information and no provision for penalties if it comes to public domain.
Arguments given by the centre:
a) The Centre\'s argument that Rs. 50,000 crore had been spent in issuing these cards to citizens. The
b) The Centre claimed that Aadhar card is a voluntary project, and added that the consent of an individual was indispensable.
c) It further said that this imitative was aimed to promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof.
d) The government argues that though the Aadhar card can be made mandatory for services like gas connections or registering of marriages, it should be used as an identity for welfare schemes that involve subsidy.
Other controversies related to Aadhar number:
UIDAI was constituted by the Government of India in January, 2009 as an attached office of the Planning Commission which has been authorised to collect biometric data, has collected information from upto 200 million residents and has been seeking an extension of its mandate. However the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry has also been tasked to collect biometric data through the National Population Register as proposed in Census 2011 and need to send that data to the UIDAI for de-duplication and generation of Aadhar numbers. The problem had arisen because the Home Ministry felt that the data collected by the UIDAI was not secure, and had not been verified by a government servant. While the RGI has actually visited households, the UIDAI has invited people to come to designated centres, where the data collection has been done by hired organisations. This created a controversy that which authority is responsible for collecting data so that duplication of work can be avoided and secure data can be obtained.
What is AADHAR?
Aadhaar is a 12 digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India on behalf of the Government of India. This number will serve as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India. Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident in India and satisfies the verification process laid down by the UIDAI can enroll for Aadhaar. Each Aadhaar number will be unique to an individual and will remain valid for life. Aadhaar number will help the person to provide access to services like banking, mobile phone connections and otherGovernment and Non-Government services in due course.