Aadhaar: Supreme Court Saves The Baby, Drains The Bath Water

Defining Public Purpose

The preamble to the Aadhaar Act 2016 was crafted to prevent an ambush of the bill in the Rajya Sabha and to keep the doors of expansion open. It is described as “An act to provide for, as a good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The Individual And The State

Activists and petitioners had pointed out the many flaws in the Act and gaping inconsistencies in the regulations. The judgment presents what is virtually a forensic analysis of the many provisions in the Act striking them, stripping them or reading them down. Section 47 states “‘No court shall take cognisance of any offence punishable under this Act, save on a complaint made by the Authority or any officer or person authorised by it.” In the book’s epilogue, I had asked: “Does this mean the individual has no power even to initiate proceedings and has to depend on the Authority to initiate criminal proceedings?” The judgment has righted this glaring defect.

The Money Bill Route

The opposition, the activists and the petitioners have questioned the legitimacy of the Aadhaar Act by challenging its definition as a money bill.

The Big Brother

The Aadhaar project has, over the past eight years, become the focal point of public angst on a variety of issues of governance. The big fear though was about the ‘Big Brother’.

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Shankkar Aiyar

Shankkar Aiyar

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Journalist-Analyst. Author of ‘Accidental India, ‘Áadhaar: A Biometric History’ and ‘The Gated Republic’. Studying how politics rules the economics of people!