Sec 57 Of Aadhaar Act Struck Down. Here’s What It Means For You
Say bye bye to calls from telecom companies asking you to link your Aadhar.
One of the most contested segments of the Aadhaar Act 2016 – Section 57 was struck down by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, on 26 September.
Section 57 was essentially a provision in the act that enabled private bodies like telecom companies, banks, e-commerce firms etc to ask for Aadhaar details from their customers.
While ruling on the constitutionality of the Act, Justices Chandrachud and Sikri – part of the five-member bench – called Section 57 “unconstitutional” saying that no corporate firm can henceforth ask for Aadhaar details.
What Is Section 57?
All the messages that you earlier received to link your Aadhaar to your bank accounts, phone numbers, mobile wallets etc was because of this specific provision in the Aadhaar Act. The key part of the section, as stated in the Act, went something like this:
“Nothing contained in this Act shall prevent the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person, pursuant to any law, for the time being in force, or any contract to this effect...”
This gave statutory support to corporates to seek Aadhaar for identification purposes.
Earlier, while hearing a petition raised by Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh, who contended that the Aadhaar Act of 2016 was passed as a Money Bill to “by-pass the scrutiny of the Rajya Sabha”, the Supreme Court had pointed to this very section to question the passing of the Act as a Money Bill.
At the time, Justice D Y Chandrachud had said that Section 57 was “as far as you can go away from the concept of a Money Bill”.
The apex court had also questioned how a statute that facilitates private companies can be part of the Consolidated Fund Of India.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Well, essentially, a lot of private firms that were asking you to “mandatorily link Aadhaar”, cannot ask you to do the same anymore. So, you won’t need an Aadhaar for the following things:
- Mobile connections
- Opening of bank accounts
- Schools admissions
- While dealing with the CBSE, UGC, NEET
- Admission to hospitals
Justice DY Chandrachud also said that telecom companies which had asked for Aadhaar details must delete these details immediately. However, his judgment was not a part of the majority judgment, and therefore not a direct ruling from the top court.
Very importantly, however, the court did state that Aadhaar is still mandatory for getting a PAN Card and filing Income Tax returns.
There’s also ambiguity over whether or not Aadhaar will be required to get an Employees’ Provident Fund account. It will also be mandatory to enable benefits from welfare schemes.
All in all, you might not be able to toss away your Aadhaar Card just yet. And if you don’t have one, you probably still have to get one.
But yes, you CAN bid farewell to annoying calls from telecom companies or any other “private” organisation asking you to link your Aadhaar.
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