The apex court ruled, “Aadhaar serves a much bigger public interest. The concept of human dignity has been enlarged in the judgment. Human dignity is based on socio-economic rights. In the present case, we've enlarged the scope of human dignity. We've applied the principle of compelling state interest."
Also, the court ruled that the Aadhaar Act does not violate the right to privacy of an individual, though the court added that robust data protection regime has to be brought in place as early as possible.
The court said: "The attack on Aadhaar by petitioners (total 27) was based on violation of rights under the Constitution, which they felt will lead to a surveillance State." The top court ruled out the possibility of people obtaining a duplicate Aadhaar card. The SC added that there is sufficient defence mechanism to ensure that the Aadhaar scheme is authentic.
The Supreme Court has struck down provision in the Aadhaar Act that allowed sharing of data on the grounds of national security. The court asked the government to bring in a robust law for data protection at the earliest.
The top two political parties, BJP & Congress welcomed the Supreme Court's verdict and claimed credits. 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."
Congress party also attacked the BJP and said the Supreme Court has struck down the "surveillance tool" of the Modi government. It said the verdict will put an end to the government's "abuse of power". The party said the court has put an end to the "mass surveillance exercise" that, the Congress said, was being carried out under the guise of Aadhaar.
Amit Shah, BJP President, attacked Congress and said: "Aadhaar under (Congress-led) UPA government was 'Niradhaar' (baseless) and had no purpose. UPA spent thousands of crores to enroll people without any law or scrutiny. The Narendra Modi government gave it a strong legal backing and integrated it in service delivery. This ensured savings of Rs 90,000 crore and benefited the poor."
Telecom sector not happy:
The SC’s judgment did not impress the telecom sector as telcos say that Aadhaar is the easiest way which saves time of the customers and hassles of the telecom operators. The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said it will examine and assess implications of the Supreme Court judgment, COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said: “We respect the Aadhaar verdict of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the apex court of India. We are going to review the judgment and its implications. We shall await further orders and instructions from Department of Telecom."
Telcos say that now to avail a SIM card may take 4-5 days instead of a few hours, as representative will need to visit a customers’ home to verify their credentials.
Welcoming the verdict, the telecom regulator TRAI Chairman RS Sharma said: "I am personally, extremely happy, because I have been a part of this journey. In its initial days, for four years, I worked with this (Aadhaar)."
Privacy issue remains:
The cyber experts welcomed the verdict but added that they agree with Justice D Y Chandrachud’s dissenting view that Aadhaar continues to pose a “grave threat to privacy, liberty, autonomy”. They say that though the SC has asked the government to take robust measures to safeguard the confidential details of users, it is doubtful how and what measures the government would take to achieve the safety.