NEW DELHI, Sept 26 - In a verdict with far reaching impact, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of �Aadhaar� but limited the scope of the controversial biometric identity project, ruling that it is not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions.
The verdict was widely welcomed, with both sides in the acrimonious debate over Aadhaar�s merits, claiming victory.
Holding there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violates right to privacy of an individual, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in a 4 to 1 verdict also cleared the use of Aadhaar for welfare schemes after a long-drawn legal battle against the government�s ambitious project, which incorporates the world�s largest biometric ID database.
The court, however, held Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of Income Tax(IT) returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN).
In what was seen as a victory for activists, the court struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 that permitted private entities like telecom companies or other corporates to avail of the biometric Aadhaar data.
Ruling that Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than six months, the court also directed the government not to give Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.
Justice D Y Chandrachud gave a dissenting judgement in which he ruled the Aadhaar Act should not have been passed as Money Bill, saying it amounts to a fraud on the Constitution and is liable to be struck down. But the majority verdict by Justices A K Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and A M Khanwilkar besides the CJI upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill by the Lok Sabha.
Observing that Aadhaar was meant to help the benefits reach the marginalised sections of society, it said the scheme takes into account the dignity of people not only from personal but from the community point of view as well and served the much bigger public interest. Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best, it said.
�Aadhaar gives dignity to the marginalised. Dignity to the marginalised outweighs privacy,� Justice Sikri said while reading out the operative part of the 1,448-page judgement in the packed courtroom of the CJI. �One can�t throw the baby out with the bath water.� � PTI
Services requiring Aadhaar linking
� It is mandatory to link PAN with Aadhaar.
� Aadhaar is compulsory for filing Income Tax returns.
� Aadhaar must for availing facilities of welfare schemes and government subsidies.
Services not requiring Aadhaar linking
� It is not mandatory to link bank account with Aadhaar.
� Telecom service providers cannot ask for linking mobile number with Aadhaar.
� CBSE, NEET, UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory.
� Aadhaar not compulsory for school admissions.
� No child can be denied benefits of any schemes on not being able to bring Aadhaar. � PTI