SC's observations in Aadhaar case
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the legality of Aadhaar restricting it to disbursement of social benefits and junking its requirement for cell phones and bank accounts.
Here are the main observations of the apex court in its 1,448-page judgement:
* It is better to be unique than the best. Because, being the best makes you the number one, but being unique makes you the only one. 'Unique makes you the only one' is the central message of Aadhaar.
* Education took us from thumb impression to signature, technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression, again.
* The architecture of the Aadhaar Act reveals that the UIDAI is established as a statutory body which is given the task of developing the policy, procedure and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to individuals and also to perform authentication thereof as per the provisions of the Act.
* Throughout their lives, individuals are supposed to provide information: be it admission in a school or college or at the time of taking job or engaging in any profession or business activity, etc.
When all this information is available in one place, in the form of Aadhaar card, it not only becomes unique, it would also qualify as a document of empowerment. Added with this feature, when an individual knows that no other person can clone it, it assumes greater significance.
* The scheme (Aadhaar) by itself can be treated as laudable, more so, when it is voluntary in nature. Howsoever benevolent the scheme may be, it has to pass the muster of constitutionality.
* In a scenario where the State is coming out with welfare schemes, there cannot be undue intrusion into personal autonomy on the pretext of conferment of economic benefits.
* The architecture of Aadhaar as well as provisions of the Aadhaar Act do not tend to create a surveillance state. This is ensured by the manner in which the Aadhaar project operates.
* The use of Aadhaar number has been increased manifold and, therefore, it is also necessary to take measures relating to ensuring security of the information provided by the individuals while enrolling for Aadhaar card.
* The entire aim behind launching this programme is the 'inclusion' of the deserving persons who need to get such benefits. When it is serving much larger purpose by reaching hundreds of millions of deserving persons, it cannot be crucified on the unproven plea of exclusion of some.
* What we are emphasising is that remedy is to plug the loopholes rather than axe a project, aimed for the welfare of large section of the society. Obviously, in order to address the failures of authentication, the remedy is to adopt alternative methods for identifying such persons, after finding the causes of failure in their cases.
* We again emphasise that no person rightfully entitled to the benefits shall be denied the same on such grounds. It would be appropriate if a suitable provision be made in the concerned regulations for establishing an identity by alternative means, in situations like change in formation of fingerprints for various reasons, or failure of iris test due to certain reasons including blindness of a person.