New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Centre's flagship programme Aadhaar means unique and said it is better to be unique than being best.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that Aadhaar empowered and gave identity to marginalised sections of society. Three sets of judgements will be pronounced today. The first of the three verdicts was pronounced by Justice A K Sikri who wrote the judgement for himself, Chief Justice and Justice A M Khanwilkar. Justice Chandrachud and Justice A Bhushan have written their individual opinions.

While pronouncing the judgment on the validity of Aadhaar numbers, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, observed that Aadhaar covers 'very, very minimal data' and whatever documents furnished are ample proof of identity. The petitioners had argued that the Aadhaar project could be used as a tool of mass surveillance by the state, which will amount to infringement of fundamental rights. 

The Bench added "minimal demographic & biometric data of citizens are collected by the UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment. Aadhaar number given to a person is unique & can't go to any other person". The bench added: "Education has taken us from thumb impression to signature, now technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression." 

  • While reading the judgment, Justice A K Sikri said private bodies can't seek Aadhaar data and says it is unconstitutional. Justice Sikri struck down Section 54 of Aadhaar Act, 2016 which says private body corporates can seek Aadhaar data. Says it’s unconstitutional.
  • Children cannot be denied admission in a school for not having Aadhaar card
  • Bank accounts and mobile numbers need not be linked to Aadhaar
  • Section 33(2) of Aadhaar Act struck down
  • The apex court said that there is sufficient defense mechanism for authentication. Some provisions were struck down. 
  • Section 33(2) (National security exception for disclosure of Aaadhar information), Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act have been struck down. "We have concluded that it is simply difficult to care the profile of a person on the basis of data stored in CIDR. Authentication data should not be stored beyond 6 months. Current rule that it can be archived for 5 years struck down," Justice Sikri said. 
  • The apex court highlighted that the government needs to ensure that illegal migrants do not get Aadhaar card.
  • Aadhaar is not mandatory for UGC, NEET & CBSE examinations. Biometric data shall not be shared with any agency without the permission of the court.
  • Aadhaar not mandatory for obtaining a new SIM card, the Bench added.
  • Aadhaar not mandatory for Public Provident Fund and National Savings Certificates
  • Justice D Y Chandrachud,while reading his part, said his views were different from that of verdict pronounced by Justice Sikri. 
  • He said Aadhaar Act does not qualify as Money Bill as it violates basic structure. Justice Sikri though disagreed with him on this point.   
    Justice Chandrachud also added that Aadhaar threatens the right to privacy and the details could be used to profile persons and voters.
  • He added that the data could be misused by third party, private vendors, that too without consent of an individual.
  • He also said that the Aadhaar Act is liable to be struck down as being violative of Article 110 of the Constitution and has specific grounds for Money Bill. The said law went beyond this. This point should not have been bypassed by Rajya Sabha. 

Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric and identity database with 122.56 crore numbers issued to Indian citizens and have been used for 2,322 crore authentications. The 12-digit Unique Identification Number has been made compulsory for all crucial services such as bank accounts, PAN cards, cellphone services, passport and even driving licenses.