The Supreme Court is expected to pronounce its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme at 10.30 am on Wednesday. On May 10, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the top court had reserved its judgement in the case after a hearing that lasted 38 sessions.
The petitioners have raised concerns about privacy and also questioned why the identity number was made mandatory for people to avail of welfare schemes, file income tax returns, hold mobile numbers, and bank accounts.
A major point of contention is whether Aadhaar violated the fundamental right to privacy, which the Supreme Court upheld in 2017. However, the Unique Identification Authority of India, the agency that issues Aadhaar numbers, had said that it insisted on linking the biometric-based unique identification number with various services to protect people from crimes, not because it believes everyone is a criminal.
The government has backed the Aadhaar initiative, and extended it to cover several social security schemes. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had claimed that Aadhaar data could not be hacked “even after a billion tries”. “Aadhaar is a home grown technology… and is completely safe and secure,” he said, displaying his unique identity card at a function in Panaji in July
There have also been serious security concerns about the scheme. On September 11, the Aadhaar authority dismissed as “completely incorrect and baseless” a news report that claimed that a software hack, which can bypass some critical security features of the Aadhaar enrolment platform, is available on WhatsApp groups for as little as Rs 2,500. However, the authority had also warned citizens not to share their Aadhaar number.
Justice DY Chandrachud, who is part of the Constitution Bench, had said that failures in authentication while using Aadhaar could create problems for those in need, and that a solution was needed to address the matter.