A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. The outcome is likely to determine whether Aadhaar can be made mandatory for access to government schemes.

The court had reserved its verdict on August 3, after hearing arguments from all parties involved for six days across three weeks. The judgment is likely to be announced at 10.30 am.

The agency that manages the biometrics for Aadhaar cards had told the Supreme Court that it was “technically impossible” to use the data to spy on people who have enrolled in the unique identification programme. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Unique Identity Development Authority of India, had said that several safeguards have been built into the Aadhaar law to avoid surveillance, which critics fear the government will be in a position to do as more schemes are linked to the project.

The Centre had argued that citizens do not have an absolute right over their bodies, and that an array of laws and rules has already imposed limitations on this right.

A number of petitioners have argued in the Supreme Court that Aadhaar breaches an individual’s right to privacy, saying it fell under the Constitution’s Article 21 on the right to life and Article 19 on the protection of certain basic rights.

Here is a round-up of pieces published on Scroll.in on the Aadhaar controversy:

  • Privacy is not an elitist concern – it’s the only way to secure equality: Aadhaar reflects and reproduces power imbalances and inequalities. Information asymmetries result in the data subject becoming a data object, to be manipulated, misrepresented and policed at will.  
  • A series of right to be forgotten cases in courts highlight how India doesn’t have a privacy law: The right to our personal data should be a legal right.  
  • Will Aadhaar leaks be used as an excuse to shut out scrutiny of welfare schemes?: Aadhaar data of all 23 crore beneficiaries of Direct Benefit Transfer schemes could be publicly available, says a report by Centre for Internet and Society.
  • Can India overcome the spy-security state and big tech to enact a strong law?: The Justice BN Srikrishna committee, tasked with drafting this legislation, faces an unenviable task.  
  • Will India be the country of its Constitution or a society of its subjects?: It is about more than just Aadhaar.  
  • Centre’s defence of Aadhaar in the Supreme Court seems to be echoing Nehru: ‘It is up to the Parliament,’ Nehru had argued, ‘to make the fundamental rights subserve the directive principles of state policy’.