The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the use of Aadhaar by private companies, observing that allowing non-state entities to utilise the details of citizens would be beyond the mandate of the Aadhaar Act, the Hindustan Times reported.
A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar programme and its enabling law. The petitioners have raised privacy concerns and have also questioned why the identity number has been made mandatory for people to avail of welfare schemes, file income tax returns, and hold mobile numbers and bank accounts.
Attorney General KK Venugopal on Wednesday justified the government’s decision to treat the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, saying that the law provided for delivery of subsidies and benefits for which the funds came from the Consolidated Fund of India. The bench, however, seemed to disagree and referred to Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act which states that the state or any corporate body or person can use Aadhaar number for any purpose.
“The problem arises with regard to Section 57 [of the Aadhaar Act],” the bench observed, according to PTI. “Section 57 snapped the link with Section 7 and the targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services.”
Venugopal argued that the expenditure for the targeted delivery of subsidies goes into thousands of crores of rupees from the Consolidated Fund of India, which brings the law under the ambit of Money Bill as per Article 110 of the Constitution. “Not a single provision in the Act is unnecessary or unrelated to the main purpose or the pith and substance of the Act which is giving subsidies, services and benefits,” he added, PTI reported.
The hearing in the matter will resume on Thursday.