Congress welcomes Aadhaar verdict, calls it a win for UPA's policy; Kapil Sibal says will approach SC if govt brings in Money Bill

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and said that it empowers the marginalised sections of the society. The Congress party welcomed the verdict of the apex court calling it a victory of UPA government's policies, as the concept of Aadhaar was introduced during its regime. Senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, however, said that if the BJP government won't bring the Aadhaar Bill to Rajya Sabha, Congress will again approach the Supreme Court.

“One important part of judgment to be noted is — if in the future a Lok Sabha speaker declares a bill as Money Bill, then the court can review this and revert. We will approach a seven-judge bench to consider this verdict again as this is clearly not a Money Bill,” said Sibal. "The Congress has been demanding that the Aadhaar Enabling Act should have come to Rajya Sabha since it was not a money bill…had it been discussed in the Rajya Sabha, it wouldn’t have reached the Supreme Court, he said.

On asked if it is a setback for the Opposition, since the majority of judges ruled in favour of Aadhaar, Sibal said, "No, it is not a setback as striking down the Act would have deprived the marginalised sections. But we agree with Justice Chandrachud that it is a fraud on the Constitution."

Sibal also hailed the striking down of Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, stating that this will put an end to mass surveillance. "By striking down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, Supreme Court firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhar by the Central Government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA," said Sibal. He also stated that it was not unconstitutional, but against democracy.

The Supreme Court reading down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act means that an Aadhaar card is no long longer a proof of identity and cannot be demanded for that purpose. It stipulated that the State, a body corporate or person can request for Aadhaar, if required by law, which gave legislative backing to mobile companies and other private service providers to seek customers’ Aadhaar card for identification purposes.

However, Sabil pointed out other grey areas in the verdict.  "Like a lot of people who work with their hands, when they go for fingerprint identification, they are not able to register. What happens to their right?" he asked. He questioned the government, asking that if the data that has been collected is illegal, why did the government allow it in the first place. "The Supreme Court has said that all the data that has been collected so far is illegal. Why did this government allow such illegal work?"

He also blamed the BJP government for being arrogant and allowing crores of people's biodata to land in private hands. "Had the government not been arrogant and allowed the democratic process to work, none of this would have happened. The result of all this is that crores of people's biodata is now in private hands. This is an immeasurable harm done to the polity and democracy in the country," he said.

Continuing his onslaught against the Centre, Sibal said that the passage of the Aadhaar Enabling Act violates both the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Right to Privacy and is thus, a gross abuse of the money bill route.

The Congress had earlier termed the striking down of Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act as a "slap on the face of BJP". "We welcome the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act. Private entities are no longer allowed to use Aadhaar for verification purposes," the Congress said on Twitter minutes after the verdict.

The majority verdict by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri and A M Khanwilkar declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions, including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions. The top court said that Aadhaar serves a bigger public interest as it is unique and "it is better to be unique than be the best", the top court stated.

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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2018 16:15:24 IST