New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on a PIL challenging the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019, that provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar as an identification document for opening of the bank accounts and for getting mobile connections.
Besides challenge to the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019, the PIL petitioners have also challenged the Aadh-aar (Pricing of Aadhaar Authentication Services) Regulations, 2019.
Issuing notice on a PIL challenging the law passed in the Monsoons Session of Parliament, a bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice B.R. Gavai tagged it with a earlier pending matter.
The PIL has been jointly moved by retired Indian Army officer S.G. Vomba-tkare and human rights activist Bezwada Wilson.
Earlier on July 5, the top court had issued notice to the Centre and UIDAI on a PIL by Mr Vombatkare and Mr Wilson challenging two ordinances — Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordnance, 2019 and the Aadhaar (Pricing of Aadhaar Authentication Services) Regulations, 20J9.
It has been contended by the PIL petitioners that the law and the regulations under challenge are “manifestly unconstitutional” as they seek to “re-legislate” the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 which enabled the commercial exploitation of personal information collected for the purposes of the State alone.
The SC by its September 26, 2018, judgment had struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, which permitted the use of Aadhaar for other purposes under the law.
Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act which now stands struck down said, “Nothing contained in this Act shall prevent the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person, pursuant to any law, for the time being in force, or any contract to this effect.”
The top court by its September 26, 2018, 4:1majority verdict, while upholding the legality of Aadhaar, restricted its use to disbursement of social benefits only and junked its requirement an an authentication document for getting mobile phone connections and opening bank accounts.
The majority judgment had held that linking of Aadhaar for opening new bank accounts and with the existing bank accounts, getting a mobile number, CBSE, NEET, JEE, UGC, admission in schools was “not amendatory”.
While holding that the linking of Aadhaar with bank account was not mandatory, the court had said that the earlier government’s notification of making linking mandatory amounted to depriving a person of his property rights.
“We find that this move of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank account does not satisfy the test of proportionality”, the majority judgment had said.
Similarly, the court had said that getting admission in the school could not be saddled with Aadhaar as getting education in the age group of 4 to 16 years is a part of the right to education.
The court in its majority judgment had said that on attaining the age of majority, children who are enrolled under Aadhaar with the consent of their parents, shall be given the option to exit from the Aadhaar project, in case they do not intend to avail the benefits of the government schemes.