The Centre on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the Aadhaar Ordinance “does not survive” as the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passsed by Parliament, PTI reported. The court was hearing a petition challenging the validity of the Ordinance.
The amended law allows the voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for opening bank accounts and getting mobile phone connections. The Rajya Sabha cleared the bill through a voice vote on Monday, four days after it was passed by the Lok Sabha.
The central government made its submission before a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, challenging the plea filed by retired Army officer SG Vombatkere and human rights activist Bezwada Wilson. The petitioners have alleged that the Ordinance violates the fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed in the Constitution. They also claimed that the Ordinance “re-legislates the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016, which enabled commercial exploitation of personal information collected for the purpose of state”.
However, the lawyer representing the petitioners said the Bill had not yet been made into an Act. The court listed the matter for hearing on October 22.
The new bill has provisions for Rs 1-crore penalty, and a jail term for private entities violating the law with regard to Aadhaar data. It also amended the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, and the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
In September 2018, the Supreme Court made Aadhaar optional for mobile phones and bank accounts but said it would still need to be linked with Permanent Account Numbers to file income tax returns. The verdict came after several petitioners raised concerns about privacy, and asked why the unique identity number was made mandatory for people to access welfare schemes, file income tax returns, hold mobile numbers, and bank accounts.
The amendments, however, do not comply with the court’s order regarding the Aadhaar Act’s surveillance provisions, which were specifically struck down for want of proper oversight.