While the Supreme Court is yet to announce its verdict on the constitutionality of Aadhaar, former UIDAI chairman and an advocate of Aadhaar, Nandan Nilekani has come out and said that it should not be made mandatory.
The statement made by Nilekani does somewhat contradict what the government has been lobbying for, attempting to make Aadhaar mandatory for a number of government services as well as other services such as cellular connections etc.
In an exclusive interview on CNBC-TV18, Nilekani when asked if was Aadhaar ever meant to be mandatory when it was first conceptualised said, "Aadhaar itself was voluntary. But we had always said that if a particular project requires the entire universe of people to have mandatory Aadhaar, it is their decision."
When asked if he was okay with the Supreme Court not making Aadhaar mandatory, the former UIDAI chairman said,"I am perfectly fine with that. The real use of Aadhaar is when it is used for delivering online benefits, innovation on top of this. So if it is not mandatory for something, I'm fine with it."
Discussing fears of Aadhaar being used as a tool for mass surveillance, he added, "I think this surveillance state is certainly not anywhere close to what Aadhaar does. Aadhaar by definition does not collect data. The first requirement of a surveillance state is you collect data."
The co-founder of Infosys, also mentioned that the concerns regarding Aadhaar becoming a surveillance tool is a "highly over-inflated fear" and argued that a mobile phone can also be seen as a surveillance tool in that case.