The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 26 September, declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid – but struck down some of its provisions, including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.
Among other exceptions was the apex court’s decision to strike down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act. What does it mean? It means that private companies cannot use Aadhaar. The Congress, though silent on other developments, lauded the top court’s decision for the amendment to the Aadhaar Act.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the judgment while slamming the BJP for making Aadhaar an “instrument of oppression”.
‘SC Judgment Big Victory For Modi Govt’
The BJP, meanwhile, also hailed the Supreme Court judgment on Aadhaar as a big victory for the "pro-poor Modi government", saying the apex court has upheld the constitutional validity of the scheme and asserted that it does not violate privacy.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said everyone criticising Aadhaar should understand “that they cannot defy technology”. “Mainstream should accept changes, one can understand the fringe being against,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
“Congress cuts a very sorry figure here, they introduced the idea but they did not know what to do with it,” he added.
“It is a historic order, Aadhaar’s concept has been accepted after judicial review, we welcome this decision of the Supreme Court.”Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra hit back at the Congress after it projected the verdict as a slap on the face of the ruling party, saying the order has in fact exposed the opposition party.
The Congress favoured middlemen while the Modi government brought Aadhaar to ensure that benefits are given directly to people, he said.
That is why, Patra added, the Congress had moved the apex court against it. The court has ruled that Aadhaar is safe.
“We see it as a big victory of the Modi government, the pro-poor Modi government. The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and has also said that it does not violate privacy.”Sambit Patra, BJP spokesperson
He said the court has noted that Aadhaar gives strength to the poor. The Supreme Court, like the Modi government, has stood with the poor of the country, the BJP leader added.
Other BJP leaders also hailed the ‘historic’ judgment.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It's a historic judgment. The Supreme Court has clearly said Aadhaar doesn't lead to any kind of surveillance. Aadhaar is constitutionally valid, it empowers the poor with dignity. They have even upheld Aadhaar linking with PAN card.”
‘NDA Tried to Convert Aadhaar Into a Monster’
Lashing out at the BJP dispensation after the verdict, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that the “majority judgment in the Aadhaar case has retrieved the UPA's original idea of Aadhaar.”
“Aadhaar was meant to be a benign instrument to deliver benefits, subsidies and services to the poor. Glad that the UPA’s policy has been vindicated.”P Chidambaram, Congress MP
He said that several provisions of the Act and the Regulations had been struck down as unconstitutional and that it should serve as “a humbling lesson for the Ministry of Law.”
‘SC Quashes Modi Government’s Surveillance Tool’
Congress’ Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Supreme Court verdict "upholds the individual's right to privacy".
Congress’ Kapil Sibal, too, “welcomed” the judgment. He told CNBC-TV18, “Striking down linkage of bank accounts with Aadhaar is a very welcome step.”
“By striking down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, the Supreme Court has firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhaar by the central government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA,” he told ANI.
“However, the passage of the law violates both the fundamental right to privacy and is a gross abuse of the Money Bill route,” he added.
‘Aadhaar Not The Problem’
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, meanwhile, said Aadhaar on its own was “not the problem”. Speaking to News18, he said, “The problem is not Aadhaar, but linking of it to various things, where it was not actually needed. The Supreme Court has clarified saying Aadhaar linking is not needed for bank accounts and mobile number.”
Several other Congress leaders also spoke on the judgment. “The delinking of Aadhaar from private entities is a 'slap on the face of the BJP’,” said Congress national spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
He also hailed the Supreme Court's move to disallow metadata to be stored in its current form.
Sanjay Jha, national spokeperson for INC India, slammed the Narendra Modi government for collecting citizen’s data while the matter was sub judice.
“Dear Citizens of India. Ask (Narendra) Modi to ‘please give my data back’ that has been taken by mobile companies and banks. Why did the government take our Aadhaar information when it was sub judice? Now they already have access to your info. How fair is that? It is daylight robbery,” he said.
‘Mamata, TMC Fought Hard To Strike Section 57’
The Trinamool Congress also hailed the Supreme Court judgment, which struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that allowed corporate entities to access its data.
A statement released by the party after the judgment read: “SC strikes down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, 2016. So you don’t need to give your Aadhaar to private bodies like banks, schools, mobile companies. Trinamool and Mamata Banerjee fought hard for this.”
“Mamata Banerjee had issued an open challenge on Aadhaar. Our stance has been vindicated. I'm glad the SC said what it said. On data privacy and data protection, that's also something we need to take a close look at, so the BJP can't make it into a policed state,” TMC’s Derek O'Brien told ANI.
(With inputs from PTI)