Mandatory to link Aadhaar-SIM by February 6, Centre reiterates
The Centre has reiterated in the SC that linking of Aadhaar and SIM is mandatory by February 6, 2018. It submitted this was in accordance with a February'17 order passed by the court itself. It couldn't change the deadline as it had been fixed by the SC, it argued. For linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, it had already extended the deadline to March 31.
The start of mandatory SIM-Aadhaar linking
Earlier this year, the Lokniti Foundation, an NGO, had approached the SC seeking a "definite mobile phone subscriber verification scheme to ensure 100% verification of subscribers". The Centre then submitted it can be done by "putting in place a mechanism, similar to the one adopted for new subscribers", implying Aadhaar. The SC had then asked the Centre to get it done within a year.
Why do critics oppose mandatory Aadhaar?
A primary argument against mandatory Aadhaar is that it breaches citizens' right to privacy; there have been several instances when government websites themselves have revealed personal data of thousands. Another is security. How safe is the Aadhaar database from cyber attacks? Moreover, there are concerns over reliability. Is there certainty Aadhaar cards can't be forged? Finally, are there enough checks to prevent possible misuse?
Did the right to privacy verdict change things?
While the SC heard arguments on mandatory Aadhaar, a question came up on whether privacy is a fundamental right. On August 24, the SC concurred that it is. However, the judgement didn't directly affect the hearing on mandatory Aadhaar, which continued as a separate case.
'No deaths due to Aadhaar': Centre reiterates stand in SC
The Centre has now submitted a 113-page affidavit backing its stand. Aadhaar is mandatory for opening new bank accounts, it argued. Contrary to reports, no starvation deaths had taken place due to Aadhaar, the Centre claimed. Moreover, "there hasn't been any instance of hacking in UIDAI or any of its servers". Earlier, the SC had validated its decision of mandatory Aadhaar-PAN linking.