The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the verdict in relation to 27 petitions that challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which had commenced the hearing on as many as 31 petitions, including one filed by former High Court judge K S Puttaswamy on January 17, was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal that this matter has become the “second longest” one in terms of days of hearing after the historic Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973.
The Aadhaar verdict went for 38 days spanning four-and-half months.
Below we have listed 10 quick updates related to the Aadhaar matter:
1. The Supreme Court had reserved the verdict, as mentioned above. Experts believe that the verdict is likely to be out in July or August. Meanwhile, Attorney General Venugopal Rao told the bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, “The Kesavananda Bharati case was heard for five months and this matter continued for four-and-half months. This is the second longest hearing of a case in history”.
2.A battery of senior lawyers, including Shyam Divan, Gopal Subramanium, Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Arvind Datar, K V Vishwanath, Anand Grover, Sajan Poovayya and a few others, argued on behalf of petitioners opposing the Aadhaar Scheme on various grounds.
Besides the former HC judge, the top lawyers argued for petitioners, who included Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, social activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil De, Nachiket Udupa and CPI leader Binoy Visman.
3. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi even supported the Aadhaar scheme. Attacking congress, PM Modi took a day off from addressing Karnataka election rallies to address the Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers, where he hit out at the Opposition for opposing technology, be it in the form of Aadhaar card or EVMs.
4. Strengthening government’s stand, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has also supported Aadhaar. “India’s Aadhaar technology does not pose any privacy issue and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the World Bank to take this approach to other countries as it is worth emulating”, he said.
5. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has announced that free nutrition schemes in the state, meant for children and pregnant and lactating women, can now be availed only by those who have an Aadhaar card.
6. You soon may need your Aadhaar card for booking rail tickets on IRCTC’s website, claimed a Mumbai Mirror report. According to the publication, if the recommendation of a new railway report will be implemented then a customer will have to submit their Aadhaar card number in order to confirm the tickets.
7. How can Aadhaar curb the menace of money laundering which poses a threat to the economy, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre earlier in the hearing.
8. The government also claimed that the authorities have been able to unearth Rs 33,000 crore, which was earlier not taxed, through the “voluntary seeding” of Aadhaar with PAN cards and the amount may rise “exponentially” if this linking is made mandatory.
9. Earlier, the apex court had rebutted the Centre’s defence that collection of biometric details has not infringed the right to privacy of the citizens even if these were collected before the enactment of a law on Aadhaar in 2016.
10. The Supreme Court had also said it was not sure whether bringing people “face to face” with authorities through Aadhaar was the best model as the State should reach them to accord the benefits of the welfare schemes.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number for Indians, based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the Government of India.