- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
Review Of Aadhaar Verdict
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of Aadhar, Money Bill.
- For Mains: Features and significance of the verdict, Security concerns and ways to address them.
Context: A review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking re-examination of its verdict by which the centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme was held as constitutionally valid.
- The review petition has been filed against the September 26 verdict of the five-judge constitution bench which had said there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violated right to privacy of an individual. The court had also upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill by the Lok Sabha.
While declaring the scheme as constitutionally valid, the top court had struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions. The constitution bench had held that Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of Income Tax returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN).
Need for review- demands by the petitioner:
- The petition claimed that the Aadhaar program, which had been in existence prior to the enactment of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, had itself become an “instrument of transfer of sensitive personal data” belonging to citizens to foreign entities acting as biometric service providers at a time when the UIDAI in 2010 had no cyber or technical infrastructure to store such information.
- This, the petition claimed, poses a massive national security risk, more so when, according to a Press Information Bureau notification, 100 crore enrolments had already taken place before April 4, 2016.
What was the contention against Aadhaar before the Supreme Court?
The main questions raised during the hearing on Aadhaar were:
- Is the Aadhaar Act, 2016, constitutionally valid given that it was passed in Parliament as a Money Bill?
- Why does every citizen need one identity proof — a unique identification number — to acquire government benefits? Can’t this be done using other documents, like ration card or passport?
- Does Aadhaar take away our right to privacy — upheld as a fundamental right by a nine-judge Constitution bench of the court in August last year.
- What happens if Aadhaar data becomes a tool for mass surveillance by the state, as the movement and activities of users can be tracked by collecting metadata?
Supreme Court: Majority Judgement Conclusions:
- Supreme Court felt that the technology has become a vital tool for ensuring good governance in a welfare state.
- Schemes such as PDS, scholarships, Mid-day Meals and LPG subsidies involve huge amount of money and Aadhaar helped welfare reach of the poor as a fool-proof mechanism.
- Majority opinion upholds Aadhaar as a reasonable restriction on privacy. It fulfils Government’s aim to provide dignity to the marginalised.
- Aadhaar unique ID cannot be duplicated, whereas, PAN, Ration Card can be duplicated. It upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill.
- The authentication records should not be retained for more than 6 months. Archiving of records for five years is bad in law.
- SC struck down Section 33 (2), which allowed the disclosure of Aadhaar information for national security reasons on the orders of an officer not below a Joint Secretary level.
Sources: the hindu.
Mains Question: The Supreme Court finds a pragmatic middle path between the Aadhaar scheme excesses and its benefits to the marginalised. Analyze.