Giving an important judgment on Aadhaar, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down some provisions relating to authentication of the program, and the Section 57 of Aadhaar Act.
The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
The apex court added that private companies cannot insist on Aadhaar.
Aadhaar empowered the marginalized, says Justice Sikri
Four judges upheld the legality of the Aadhaar program. Reading the judgment, Justice Sikri said Aadhaar gave power to oppressed and quelled doubts of duplicacy by saying biometrics ensured nothing can be copied.
Speaking on its constitutional validity, Sikri said it was better to be unique than best.
"Minimal demographic & biometric data of citizens are collected by the UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment," he maintained.
CBSE, UGC can't make Aadhaar mandatory
Justice Sikri also asked Centre to introduce strong data protection law as soon as possible.
Further, he added bodies like CBSE and UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory, and neither can schools for admission of children.
"For enrolment of children in Aadhaar, it would be essential to have the consent of parents. While attaining the age of 18, they will be given the choice of exit," he asserted.
Backstory: Aadhaar's constitutional validity questioned in court
Notably, the Aadhaar debate found a new argument after the SC in 2017 ruled 'Right To Privacy' was a fundamental right.
Those opposing Aadhaar, which is essentially a unique 12-digit number given to every citizen, claim it was a massive surveillance launched by the Centre and violated privacy.
Till now the Centre has issued 139 notification, catering to various day-to-day activities, making linking Aadhaar mandatory.
Ahead of judgment, Mukul Rohatgi had this to say
The representative of the government, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, said he hoped the SC favored Aadhaar in its judgment as it has far-reaching consequences.
"Aadhaar is relevant for a large number of subsidies. It is also relevant to plug loot and waste that has happened," he said.
Rohatgi said data protection was important and the government was planning to make law regarding the same.