Three months of final Aadhaar hearing in Supreme Court: Here’s all you need to know
Final hearings on Aadhaar have been going on since January 17 in the Supreme Court. A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is hearing the pleas against Aadhaar. All the petitions have been clubbed under the first challenge filed by Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) five years ago. The final hearings came in the wake of a nine-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar ruling in August last year that privacy was a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.
Below are a few of the major happenings on Aadhaar after the final hearings began
In a presentation to the Supreme Court , the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said it would make face authentication available alongside iris or fingerprint scan as means of verifying Aadhaar users from July 1, 2018.
Safety of Aadhaar
The government said breaking into the Aadhaar encryption system might take more than the age of the universe for the fastest computer on earth. It also said that Aadhaar data was secure behind a complex that has 13-ft high and 5-ft thick walls.
Badly drafted law
The Supreme Court faulted a clause in the Aadhaar Act, which validated all biometric enrolments even before the law was enacted with retrospective effect, as badly drafted and too wide in a prima facie observation. Section 59 of the Act deems consent in all pre-2016 cases where biometrics were collected without the backing of any law.
‘No direction on mandatory linkage of mobile numbers’
The apex court clarified that it had not ordered mandatory linkage of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar. It said the government misinterpreted its February 6, 2017, observation and insisted on doing it “In the Lokniti Foundation case, the SC has not directed linking of SIM with UID. But the Union government’s circular says so. There was no direction by the court…” Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
Govt extends linkage deadlines
The govenrment extended the 31 March deadline to link Aadhaar number to welfare and subsidy schemes such as mid-day meal and pensions to June 30. The Supreme Court had refused to give an extension beyond March 31. The govenrment also extended the deadline for linking of Aadhaar card and Permanent Account Number (PAN) to June 30 from March 31.
The government told the Supreme Court that no citizen was being denied social security benefits for the lack of Aadhaar, and that alternative identity proofs could be used to avail all such services in case a person doesn’t have the unique, 12-digit registration number. It said people could provide alternative proofs, such as the voter ID or a ration card, to avail of their social security benefits.
Profiling not possible
Profiling an Aadhaar user is near impossible even if authentication record is known as information revealed is minimal as compared to a person’s credit card history, an analysis carried out by UIDAI showed. An authentication history can lead to some guesswork but is short of profiling as the record only mentions ‘KUA’ (KYC User Agency, which could be bank, mobile company) or AUA (Authentication User Agency) where authentication was done, modality of authentication (OTP or biometric) and date and timing of the authentication.
‘Aadhaar can’t stop banking frauds’
The Supreme Court slammed the government for suggesting Aadhaar as the panacea for all ills in the system, including bank frauds “The bank knows whom it is giving loan to and it is the bank officials who are hand in glove with the fraudster. Aadhaar can do little to stop it,” said the five-judge constitution bench.
Minors can’t opt out when they turn adults
Minors, whose Aadhaar card has already been generated, could not opt out of the Aadhaar scheme after attaining majority, the UIDAI told the Supreme Court. It said school authorities could act as introducers to get children, between the age group of 5 to 15 years, enrolled for Aadhaar with the parental consent.