Post Aadhaar Verdict: A broader view

 

Supreme Court judgement on Aadhaar is a big win for the Government:
– It upholds the validity of Aadhaar
– Opines that it doesn’t infringe on Right to Privacy
– Makes it mandatory for social welfare programs, tax  filings & PAN
Quashes surveillance theory, tweeted Amit Malviya @amitmalviya,      IT Head of BJP.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted:
For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment. For the BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance. Thank you Supreme Court for supporting the Congress vision and protecting India.

Aadhaar is Mandatory Only! But Not Mandatory Also… tweeted Saravanan Annadurai @asaravanan21 of DMK.

Overall a balanced SC Aadhaar Verdict. Privacy protected (no Aadhaar for banks, mobiles, schools, private companies). Subsidies also protected (Aadhaar mandatory) against middlemen siphoning off benefits for the poor, tweeted Eminent Journalist, Minhaz Merchant @MinhazMerchant.

Chalo. Aadhar has no Aadhar in many areas of our lives…hope the goddamn text messages from mobile telephone companies and banks will stop!, tweeted Marketing Expert, Author, Suhel Seth @suhelseth.

Order! Order! Aadhaar is in order, tweeted Historian, Writer, Sriram V @MadrasMobile.

The much awaited Supreme Court judgement on Aadhaar was pronounced today.

It is better to be unique than the best, Aadhaar has become the most talked about expression in the recent years said Justice AK Sikri at the start of delivering his Aadhaar judgment.

The Aadhaar Act was upheld by the SC with a 4:1 majority. Justice Chandrachud dissents, strikes down Aadhaar.

The Supreme Court held the section of Aadhaar Act which enables body corporates to seek authentication as unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court also said, Aadhaar cannot be mandated for opening of bank accounts. CBSE, NEET too cannot mandate Aadhaar, the court ruled.

The Supreme Court strikes down some provisions of Aadhaar Act, refuses to completely strike down the Act.

In effect Aadhaar is not required for:
Opening of Bank Accounts
Procuring SIM cards
Admissions in CBSE Schools
NEET Exams
Authentication by Private companies.

Aadhaar is required for availing subsidies and for filing IT returns, by linking PAN Cards.

So what is the impact of the Verdict on the common man …

The tweet by Prominent Delhi-based Journalist Arvind Gunasekar @arvindgunasekar sums it up aptly,
Card protected but tag removed.
(Can keep it but no need to hang it around
your neck every time)

Aadhaar was introduced to empower the down-trodden, who rely heavily on Govt. subsidies. In practice, in the past few years it became a tool of intimidation. With every service provider insisting on it and threatening end users with messages and calls for compliance. This brought about a huge gap between the Govt. and the common man. As each act of intimidation was seen as one done on behalf of the Govt.

In this context the Supreme Court Verdict brings a huge relief to vast segments of our people. With only about 5.29 Crore IT returns filed last year, the mandatory linking to PAN will impact only a few.

Utilising this opportunity the Govt can insist on Aadhaar for those availing subsidies, but can suspend biometric checks at the point of distribution of subsidies to avoid genuine, bottom of the pyramid beneficiaries from being denied much needed support in terms of ration supplies and wages.

Several instances of the poor being denied subsidies due to mismatch in biometrics due to various factors beyond their control, are being consistently reported in the independent media.

The Govt can order an in-depth review of the biometrics aspect of Aadhaar from recording, safe-keeping, protecting and authentication and then re-introduce last mile authentication again.

So let Aadhaar be mandatory for availing subsidies, biometrics can take a back-seat till fool-proof systems are in place.

In an election year this can only help the Govt. wipe out all the bitterness accumulated against it due to a combination of factors.

Justice AK Sikri said, Education took us from Thumb impression to signature and Technology has taken us from Signature to Thumb impression. Technology should deliver cent percent in authenticating Thumb Impressions – the poor and the needy depend on it!

Pic Courtesy: Supreme Court

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