SC asks Centre why Aadhaar-SIM linking is necessary
While hearing WB's petition against mandatory Aadhaar, the SC noted that a state can't challenge the parliament's mandate in a federal structure. However, on one aspect of the petition against mandatory linking of Aadhaar to mobile phones, the SC has asked the Centre to explain why the move is necessary. It has four weeks to respond. The current deadline for Aadhaar-SIM linking is February'18.
The government is trying to link Aadhaar to almost every service, be it phones, PAN card, or bank accounts but why such obsession? As India moves towards digitization, perhaps the Modi government is aiming to plug all gaps, to ensure this happens. The Centre is using Aadhaar to combat "terrorism, money laundering, black marketing and other frauds, all at once".
While some may believe the linking is a good idea, a large number of Indians have raised red flags like privacy concerns, identity theft, and even profiling. Even former chairman of UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani had admitted that security was a big concern for Aadhaar. But he added UIDAI has the best security systems in place.
On 24 August, a Supreme Court bench unanimously ruled that "every citizen had a fundamental right to privacy". If this is true then it casts doubt on whether Aadhaar was valid, let alone it being linked to bank accounts and mobile phones. The privacy judgment is scheduled for November and only then will the nation gain clarity on this.
Meanwhile, the telcos are using SC's 6 March directive to Department of Telecom to push Aadhaar linking. A closer look at the directive reveals that it did not make this mandatory. This is, at its best, Centre's way of using the judgement to their benefit. Moreover, after the privacy judgement, this could be seen as undermining SC orders.