The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Narendra Modi government’s response to a petition challenging the constitutional validity of amendments made to the Aadhaar Act by Parliament in July, PTI reported. The amended law allows the voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for opening bank accounts and getting mobile phone connections.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice BR Gavai took note of the petition filed by retired Army officer SG Vombatkere and human rights activist Bezwada Wilson, who alleged that the amendments violated previous judgements of the top court.
In September 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench had upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act, but said private entities cannot be allowed to use the data even for voluntary authentication of customers’ details. The court, however, said Aadhaar 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.
After the judgement, the Centre made amendments to the Aadhaar Act, first as an ordinance in March and then as a law passed by Parliament in July. Vombatkere and Wilson had moved the top court against the ordinance, alleging that it violated the fundamental rights of citizens and “re-legislates the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016, which enabled commercial exploitation of personal information collected for the purpose of state”. They said the amendments do not comply with the court’s order striking down the Aadhaar Act’s surveillance provisions for want of proper oversight.
The top court on Friday tagged the petition with the plea the petitioners had filed when the legislation was an ordinance.