New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley termed the Supreme Court's verdict on Aadhaar as a "historic order" and said the Union government welcomed the decision. 

"Everyone who has been criticising Aadhaar should understand that they cannot defy technology. The mainstream should accept changes, one can understand the fringe being against (it)," Jaitley said.

On Wednesday, a five-judge bench pronounced that the Aadhaar scheme is constitutionally valid, though it read down certain sections of the Act. 

Providing some relief to the common man, the Supreme Court said Aadhaar won’t be mandatory for getting new mobile connections, opening bank accounts, getting admission to schools, and to appear for University Grants Commission (UGC), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exams. The apex court upheld most of the provisions of Aadhaar Act by 4:1.

The finance minister added that according to the Centre's estimates, by identifying beneficiaries of government schemes and removing fake and duplicate beneficiaries, the government is able to save 90,000 crore per year.

The finance minister also expressed happiness over the Supreme Court upholding the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill.

Jaitley added that the Congress cuts a very sorry figure here, as they had introduced the idea but did not know what to do with it.

Union Minister for Law Ravi Shankar Prasad also said the verdict is a victory for good governance and signals an empowerment of the ordinary people and efficient delivery of public services to the people.

Earlier in the day, the Congress welcomed the verdict on the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act and said it is “a slap on the face of BJP”.

Taking to Twitter after the Aadhaar verdict, Congress president Rahul Gandhi thanked the Supreme Court “for supporting the Congress vision” for Aadhaar and protecting India.

Congress leader and former IT minister Kapil Sibal said that by striking down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, the Supreme Court has put an end to the “mass surveillance exercise”.