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Top court’s verdict on constitutional validity of Aadhaar today

The hearing in the case started in January and went on until May, the second longest in the Supreme Court’s history.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Wednesday pronounce its verdict on the batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar on grounds of it being violative of the fundamental right to privacy.

Besides the validity of Aadhaar, the verdict on challenge to the tabling of Aadhaar as a money bill will also be important as it would have a bearing on the powers of the Lok Sabha Speaker.

The five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan had reserved the verdict after hearing the petitions for over 38 days starting January 17 this year.

The hearing in the case started in January and went on until May, the second longest in the Supreme Court’s history.

The bench is expected to decide on a number of petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar project, which were tagged together in this matter.

Among these are issues such as the right of the state to ask for biometrics from the citizens, 360-degree profiling of individuals through the unique markers of Aadhaar, exclusion from welfare-delivery and other larger privacy questions that come with having centralised databases of information on citizens.

139 notifications to make Aadhaar linking mandatory

  • As of now, Centre has issued 139 notifications, practically touching every aspect of a citizen’s day-to-day life, making Aadhaar linking mandatory.
  • An offshoot of challenge to Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of it being violative of right to privacy was that a nine-judge constitution bench examined the issue and in August 2017 had held that the right to privacy was a fundamental right.
  • The August 2017 verdict holding privacy a fundamental right is likely to impact the Aadhaar verdict.
  • The hearing saw a gamut of legal eagles arguing for and against Aadhaar in the Supreme Court. Among those who argued in the case were Attorney General K K Venugopal, senior counsel Shyam Divan, P Chidambaram, Arvind Datar and Rakesh Dwivedi.

Project started without an Act

  • The petitioners, on the other hand, highlighted that the Aadhaar project was started in 2009 without an Act and that an Act was passed only in 2016.
  • Petitioners also submitted proofs of exclusion from welfare and argued that 360-degree profiling of citizens goes against the principles of right to privacy that the SC itself guaranteed in an earlier decision.
  • The ruling on Wednesday is expected to answer a lot of these questions even as a couple of judges on the bench are expected to write differing opinions on some of the issues under consideration.
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