The much awaited Aadhaar judgement has finally been delivered. It was feared that there was a genuine possibility of Aadhaar being declared unconstitutional. Going by the way the Court reacted to the Section 66A of ITA 2008, and the harsh views which Justice Chandrachud has been expressing in other cases, it was not unthinkable that the Court could have come to the drastic decision of scrapping the Aadhaar Act instead of “Reading Down” portions that needed modification.
It is welcome that the Court has tried to work along with the Government in addressing the concerns of the Privacy activists by providing its suggestions through reading down of specific provisions which should be the way the Court has to work in all cases rather than taking a confrontonist attitude. I therefore welcome the judgement.
The Privacy activists should be disappointed that they were not able to get the Aadhaar struck down though the political opponents and others are now taking a face saving position that they are happy that private companies cannot use the Aadhaar number.
The Government has already brought in regulation by which use of Aadhaar had already been blocked by most of the Private sector by introducing what is called the “Virtual Aadhaar ID” which is not technically the Aadhaar ID but works for most of the requirements of the Private sector. May be to avoid the confusion, this Virtual Aadhaar ID can be called by a different name from now on such as “Temporary Identification Card”.
On the other hand, Government should be happy that PAN cards of at least at the time of filing of tax returns will have a link to the Aadhaar. Government is also happy that it can use the Aadhaar ID for its social benefit schemes ( perhaps with a rider that the scheme should be funded from the Consolidated Fund of India).
More on this can be commented only when the detailed judgement is available.