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You no longer need Aadhaar to open new bank accounts or get mobile connections, but you will need to link it with your PAN for filing IT returns and to avail of government subsidies

Supreme Court bench approves Aadhaar Act

A five-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and including Justices Ashok Bhushan, AM Khanwilkar, and AK Sikri have upheld the validity of Aadhaar in a 4-1 judgement, with Justice DY Chandrachud casting his vote against the validity of the national ID program, citing that it violates the individual’s right to privacy.

The bench heard about 27 petitions over 38 hearings that challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and decided to endorse most of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, albeit with some modifications that do not infringe on the privacy or expose personal details of individuals.

The Supreme Court has tasked the Central Government to bring in robust laws at the earliest to protect citizens’ personal information. 

Related: What you need to know about linking your Aadhaar and PAN card?

Modifications to the Act

Under the previous citing, the private details for the purpose of authentication could be held for five years. Under the new ruling, this can be stored for only six months.

The judgement has struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act. With this, the 12-digit unique identification number – commonly demanded by many private business operators as a means of obtaining biometric details from customers – will no longer be mandatory.

Section 33(2) has been revoked as well, which allowed personal data to be shared with security agencies under the pretext of national security.

Under Section 47 of the Aadhaar Act, only a government agency can complain of data theft. With this section too being struck down, any aggrieved individual can look for redressal

Related: What are the new Aadhaar features- virtual ID and limited KYC and how do they work?


Validity of Aadhaar for various services

Linking Aadhaar details to one’s Permanent Account Number (PAN) will be mandatory. Similarly, it will be compulsory for filing Income Tax returns.

Any government welfare scheme such as LPG subsidy or Public Distribution Scheme (PDS), which allows residents from marginalised strata to avail of subsidised provisions, will require Aadhaar details.

However, the Supreme Court has clarified that no person should be denied the benefits of social welfare for want of Aadhaar. At the same time, the SC directed the government to ensure that Aadhaar numbers are not allotted to illegal migrants who could then avail of the benefits from such social welfare schemes

Related: 7 benefits of Aadhaar Card


Relief for students

Stating that no child should be denied the benefit of education, the bench ruled that Aadhaar is no longer compulsory for admission in schools. Nor for Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE), University Grants Commission (UGC), or National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medicine aspirants.

Aadhaar will not be required for any banking or financial services. PAN will continue being the primary proof of identity for opening a bank account or making investments in mutual funds, Public Provident Fund, or National Savings Certificate.

Telecom companies can no longer demand Aadhaar details for granting a new mobile connection or SIM card. 

For those individuals who have already furnished their personal details, the Supreme Court has asked service providers to delete all personal information after linking their Aadhaar number with the SIM card.

Similarly, e-commerce businesses and other private business entities will not be able to seek Aadhaar details.

The Supreme Court stated that Aadhaar needs to serve the public interest. 

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