Citation: Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) Vs Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1
Date of Judgement: 26/09/2018
Equivalent Citation: (2017) 10 SCC 1; 2017 SCC OnLine SC 996
Case No.: Writ petition (civil) No. 494 of 2012
Case type: Writ Petition
Petitioner: Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Others
Respondent: Union of India
Bench: Hon’ble Justice J.S. Khehar, Hon’ble Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Hon’ble Justice S.A. Bobde, Hon’ble Justice R.K. Agrawal, Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman, Hon’ble Justice A.M. Sapre, Hon’ble Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon’ble Justice S. Abdul Nazeer,
Court: Supreme Court of India
- Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) Act; Sections 2(c), 2(d), 2(h),10
- Aadhar Act; Section 2(v), 3, 3(2), 3(3), 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 to 23, 23, 54, 23(2)(g) read with Chapter VI & VII, 29, 33, 47, 48, 57, 59
- Income Tax Act, 1961; Section 139AA
- Constitution of India; Article 21,110
- Citizenship Act, 1955
- Information Technology Act, 2000, Section 2
- Evidence Act, 1872
- Right to Information Act, 2005
- Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973, Sections 34-48
- The Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 Sections 17-19
- The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Sections 41-42
- The Customs Act, 1962
- The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920
- Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997
- Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946
- Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968
- Lokayukta Act and U.P. Lokayukta (Amendment) Act, 2012
- Basheshar Nath Vs Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi and Rajasthan & Anr., 1959 Supp (1) SCR 528 10
- Romesh Thappar Vs State of Madras, 1950 SCR 594,
- Lovell Vs City of Griffin, 303 US 444 (1938). 13
- Near Vs Minnesota, 282 US 607 (1931) 717-18.,
- Steelworth Ltd. Vs State of Assam, 1962 Supp (2) SCR 589,
- Gopal Narain Vs State of U.P., AIR 1964 SC 370,
- Ganga Sugar Corpn. Ltd. Vs State of U.P., (1980) 1 SCC 223 : 1980 SCC (Tax) 90,
- R.K. Garg Vs Union of India, (1981) 4 SCC 675 : 1982 SCC (Tax) 30
- State of W.B. Vs E.I.T.A. India Ltd., (2003) 5 SCC 239,
- State of M.P. Vs Rakesh Kohli, (2012) 6 SCC 312;
- Ashoka Kumar Thakur Vs Union of India, (2008) 6 SCC 1 22 (1996) 3 SCC 709 23 (2016) 2 SCC 445 24 (2017) 9 SCC 1
- M.P. Sharma and 4 Others Vs Satish Chandra Distt. Magistrate, Delhi and 4 Ors., 1954 AIR 300, 1954 SCR 1077
- Dr. Kalyani Menon Sen Vs Union Of India on 30 October, 2017; Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1002/2017
- People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PDS Matter) Vs Union of India & Ors. (2011) 14 SCC 331
- State Of Kerala & Ors Vs President,Parent Teacher; Civil Appeal No. 958 OF 2013
- Justice K.S.Puttaswamy (Retd)Vs Union Of India And Ors.; Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 OF 2012
- ‘S.G. Vombatkere & Anr. Vs Union of India W.P. (C) No. 829 of 2013
- Bidie Vs General Accident, Fire and Life Assurance Corporation (1948) 2 All ER 995, 998.
- Towne Vs Eisner, 245 US 418.
- James Vs Commonwealth of Australia, (1936) AC 578.
- State Of Karnataka And Anr Etc Vs Shri Ranganatha Reddy & Anr. Etc 1978 AIR 215, 1978 SCR (1) 641
- Dattatraya Govind Mahajan & Ors.Vs State Of Maharashtra & Anr 1977 AIR 915, 1977 SCR (2) 790
- Malpe Vishwanath Acharya Vs State of Maharashtra, (1998) 2 SCC 1]
- State of Bihar Vs Bihar Distillery Ltd., (1997) 2 SCC 453] , SCC
- State of M.P. Vs Rakesh Kohli (2012) 6 SCC 312 : (2012) 3 SCC (Civ) 481]
- Rajbala Vs State of Haryana, (2016) 2 SCC 445], SCC
- Binoy Viswam Vs Union of India [Binoy Viswam Vs Union of India, (2017) 7 SCC 59], SCC at paras 80 to 82,
- McDowell [State of A.P. Vs McDowell and Co., (1996) 3 SCC 709]
- Babita Prasad Vs State of Bihar , SCC at p. 285,
- A.K. Gopalan Vs State of Madras, AIR 1950 SC 27 : 1950 SCR 88]
- Lily Kurian Vs Sr. Lewina and Others, (1979) 2 SCC 124,
- Alpana VS Mehta Vs Maharashtra State Board of Secondary Education and Another, (1984) 4 SCC 27,
- Johns Teachers Training Institute Vs Regional Director, National Council for Teacher Education and Another, (2003) 3 SCC 321
- Hamdard Dawakhana (Wakf) Lal Vs Union Of India And Others, 1959, 1960 AIR 554, 1960 SCR (2) 671
- Mahant Moti Das Vs S. P. Sahi, The Special Officer In, 1959 AIR 942, 1959 SCR Supl. (2) 503
- Chiranjit Lal Chowdhuri Vs The Union Of India And Others, 1951 AIR 41, 1950 SCR 869
- The State Of Bombay And Another Vs F.N. Balsara , 1951 AIR 318, 1951 SCR 682
- State Of Andhra Pradesh Vs Mcdowell & Co.And Ors.Etc , 1996 AIR 1627, 1996 SCC (3) 709
- Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan Vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Anr,1996 AIR 1153, 1996 SCC
- Maneka Gandhi Vs Union Of India,1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621) 226
- Durga Shankar Mehta Vs Raghuraj Singh, AIR 1954 SC 520
- Union of India Vs Jyoti Prakash Mitter  3 SCR 483
- Union of India Vs Tulsiram Patel,  Supp. 2 SCR 131
- In Brundaban Nayak Vs Election Commission of India  3 SCR 53
- Union of India Vs Jyoti Prakash Mitter  3 SCR 483,
- ‘Unique Identification for BPL Families’ was a project which was initiated by the government of India. A Committee was founded for the project. The creation of a novel Identification database was suggested by the Committee for the said project. The project was decided to be founded in three phases.
- On 22/12/2006, various aspects of proposed data elements and their formats were discussed.
- On 27/04/2007, it was decided that the evolution of UID database would be in three stages in principle. The Committee further decided that linkage with major partner databases such as Household Survey of RD and the individual State Public Distribution System (PDS) databases should be taken up in a phased manner.
- On 11/06/2007, at the final stage of the project, a presentation on the UID project was made to the then Prime Minister by the Cabinet Secretary.
- On 15/06/2007 Among other things, the committee approved the resolutions, that the 11-digit numbering format got approved., The need to create a UID authorization through an implementing regulation under the aegis of the planning commission was welcomed to ensure a interdepartmental and neutral identity for the authority got approved , the proposal for the creation of central and state UIDs was approved, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) was instructed to elaborate modalities of liaison with the Electoral Commission and initiate conversations with the MoRD and the PDS on the link, and, approval the proposed order for the phase plan was granted.
- On 30/8/2007, the proposed administrative framework and structure of UIDAI authorities and personnel requirements, including financial implications, were discussed. It was decided to submit a detailed proposal based on the resource model to the committee for approval “in principle”.
- At this time, the EGoM convened its first meeting on 27/11/2007. At this meeting, consensus was reached on the following points:
- There is a clear need to create a database of residents based on the identity, regardless of whether the database is created from a de novo data collection or is based on existing data (for example, B. the electoral roll of the electoral commission).
- There is also an urgent need to create an institutional mechanism that “owns” the database and is responsible for maintaining and updating it.
- At the next meeting, issues related to the compilation of the National Population Registry (NPR) and UID systems will be discussed, including methodology, effective implementation techniques, identification of the previous institutional mechanism and the schedule for the system to be operational.
- Subsequently, several meetings were held to define the modalities of the program. He raised certain issues and a secretariat committee was created to deal with these issues.
- The committee made its recommendations that were discussed by the EGoM. Once the Aadhaar program was approved in principle, he instructed the cabinet secretary to call a meeting to determine the detailed organizational.
- In January 2009, the look Commission of India passed a notification on UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).
- In 2010, the National Identification Authority of India Bill was gone by the Commission.
- Retired Justice K S Puttaswamy and Mr. Parvesh Sharma in November 2012 filed a Writ Petition within the Supreme Court challenging the validity of Aadhaar.
- The scheme was challenged because it was said that it violative of our Fundamental Rights. The scheme violated the correct to privacy under Article 21 of the Indian citizens. After filing this writ petition, a series of orders were passed. The Aadhaar Act was passed in 2016.
- The petitioners then filed another writ petition which was critically challenging the vires of the Act. Then later This writ petition was merged with the previous one and was treated mutually writ petition.
- It was stated that the Aadhaar is a serious invasion into the right to privacy of persons and it has the propensity to lead to a surveillance state where each individual can be kept under surveillance by creating his/her life profile and movement as well on his/her use of Aadhaar.
- Jairam Ramesh, the previous Union minister and Congress leader moved Supreme Court in May 2017. He challenged the choice to treat the Aadhaar Bill as a money bill.
- On 24/08/ 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the Right to privacy could be a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
- On 17/01/2018, the hearing of Aadhaar Case was started in Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court on 25/04/2018 questioned the Centre on linking the Aadhaar with mobile.
- Whether the Aadhaar Project includes a propensity to make a surveillance state and is thus unconstitutional supported this ground?
- Whether the Aadhaar Project violates the correct to privacy of the citizens and is unconstitutional supported this ground?
- Whether Section 7 and eight of the Aadhaar Act also includes children?
- Whether the succeeding provisions and Regulations of the Aadhaar Act are unconstitutional?
- Whether the Aadhaar Act is treated as a ‘Money Bill’ within the meaning of Article 110 of the Indian Constitution?
- Whether Section 139AA of the Income tax Act, 1961 violates the proper to privacy of the citizens under the Indian Constitution?
- Whether Rule 9(a) of the Prevention of Cash Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005 and therefore the notifications issued thereafter, which mandate linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts, are valid under the Indian Constitution?
- Whether Circular dated March 23, 2017, issued by the Department of Telecommunications which mandates the linking of the mobile number of the citizens with Aadhaar is against the law and unconstitutional?
- Whether certain actions which were taken by the respondents are in contravention of the interim orders gone by the Court?
Contention of Petitioner:
The counsel of the Petitioner contended that:
- The Counsel of the petitioners claimed that Aadhaar law is planning for its own virtue is probabilistic in nature. The main objective is to extend subsidies, benefits and services to society. Instead, it is possible to provide such advantages, subsidies and services to the section of the Company for which they are included, it could end up excluding them to receive them to these beneficiaries.
- The counsel urged that, the strict implementation of Aadhaar’s law can be a serious problem, since it is contrary to the fundamental rights that occur in the establishment of India to the citizens of the country. In violation of the Constitution and had the to allow a state to become a state of surveillance (a State in which the government has the ability to monitor the activities of its citizens) depending on the information that each individual has been collected by creating an electronic coupling network.
- The counsel claimed and argued that the right to citizens’ privacy was violated. The right to privacy is an integral part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which is, the right to life and freedom. The act imposes restrictions that are not provided pursuant to Article 19 as reasonable restrictions. If no restrictions are set, it is important that it complies with the requirements referred to in Article 14 and 19 of the Indian Constitution. It is also important that the law imposed by this restriction is just right and reasonable.
- The counsel urged that, in this case, the restrictions imposed by the government through the Aadhaar law do not fall into reasonable restrictions and are arbitrary and unreasonable. There is no reasonable classification, since there is no connection between the classification of companies made by the law and the objective that the strain of law to be achieved. The information that has been sought by citizens have violated the integrity of citizens. The objective of the law was not in Nexus with the information they sought from collections by citizens. The Act has also made a classification of citizens based on religion. Religion-based classification not only requested citizens, but also forced them to reveal their religion which violated Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
- Furthermore, the law also made mandatory Aadhaar cards to take advantage of some benefits offered by the government to citizens under the law. The compulsion of Aadhaar cards will also allow the government to put citizens under their surveillance and this would be equivalent to a violation of the right to privacy pursuant to Article 21 of the Constitution.
- The counsel furthermore contended hat, the violation of the right to privacy is a serious violation of the right to life, since invades the life and dignity of the citizens, which is the fundamental law guaranteed under the Constitution.
Contention of Respondent:
The counsel of the Respondent contended while countering the arguments of Petitioner that:
- It was urged by the counsel of Respondents that the introduction of the said act is intended to ensure that all citizens who are entitled to government benefits and subsidies can receive those benefits and subsidies without being deprived of them.
- The Counsel of Respondents also objected that the Aadhaar law does not require any information that could violate privacy.
- The Counsel of Respondents indicated that the law hardly requires citizens to provide personal information that enables the state to monitor them.
- Counsel of Respondents also contended that the demographic information required from citizens to be included on the invoice includes the citizen’s name, date of birth, gender, address, mobile phone number and email address. The mobile phone number and email address provided to the country are chosen by the citizens and these two are only used to convey relevant information and to provide a one-time password (OTP) for identity verification.
- The respondent counsel stated that the information the bill sought to obtain from citizens was in the public domain. Respondents also indicated that the section 2 (k) of the act clearly states that the regulations cannot require citizens to provide information such as race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language, income, rights records or medical history. Therefore, no sensitive information can be obtained from citizens through this law.
- The counsel of the respondents urged to the court and stated said that Aadhaar is a kind of identity card with which around 920 million people participate in various social programs or use the services of the government for their citizens. This is a document that is widely used by citizens, and one restriction will cause problems for citizens. Aadhaar is a document that can help the government identify and eliminate duplicates and impersonations in the draft list and beneficiary list. It also helps MGNREGA workers and retirees withdraw their wages and pensions every month.
- Aadhaar can make sure that the advantages and subsidies which are mean sure sections of society actually reaches them. The Act also made Aadhaar Cards compulsory for availing certain benefits that were offered by the govt. to the citizens under the Act. The compulsion of Aadhaar Cards will enable the govt. to put the citizens under its surveillance and this might amount to a violation of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. Aadhaar number for unique identification of the residents is taken under consideration there was absolute confidence of dispute.
Aadhaar Act was held to be valid.
- The Hon’ble Court stated that sufficient security measures are taken by the govt. so on stay the information safe which the citizens are asked to reveal for Aadhaar. The Bench asked the govt. to want measures to supply more security so on guard the data obtained by the people.
- It absolutely was also stated by the Court that the info which has been obtained by Aadhaar should not be released to the commercial banks, payment banks, and e-wallet companies. E-wallet companies like Paytm asked their customers to induce their KYC done by using their Aadhaar cards.
- It was also further stated by Bench that telecom companies cannot seek details of Aadhaar from their customers after they buy a replacement sim card and even the schools cannot ask students to give their Aadhaar number for appearing in board exams or for admissions.
- The Supreme Court upheld the validity of Aadhaar and made it mandatory for availing the benefits and subsidies of the government. The Act ensures that the benefits and subsidies of the government are received by the people for whom it’s meant. The Court held Section 57 of the Act is unconstitutional and therefore it was struck down.
- The court held that Aadhaar card shall be made mandatory for availing the welfare schemes, benefits, and subsidies that are provided by the govt. because it empowers the poor and ensures that the benefits and subsidies are received by the sections of society that it had been meant.
- The Supreme Court held that children wouldn’t be denied the benefits of any Government scheme if they’re doing not have an Aadhaar card.
- The Apex Court further also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar Act.
- The Court also explained the difference between a card and Aadhaar. Aadhaar incorporates a novel identification and hence can’t be duplicated like other identity cards.
- The Court also stated that the target of Aadhaar is to relinquish identity and empower the poor of the society by ensuring that they are able to avail the benefits and subsidies which are provided by the government. for them.
- Therefore, the Aadhaar has been made compulsory for availing the government welfare schemes.
The Aadhaar Act was enacted with the goal of giving marginalised people a sense of belonging and empowerment. It assigns citizens of India a unique identity number. Because the Aadhaar number is unique, it cannot be replicated. The unique identity ensures that the government’s benefits and subsidies are only used by the people for whom they were intended. Aadhaar has the potential to avoid unethical acts and the loss of thousands of crores of rupees. The case also sparked a number of privacy rights concerns. The privacy rights claims were founded on the issues of citizen dignity, informational self-determination, and consent.
“Mera Aadhaar, Meri Pehchan” –The world’s biggest biometric ID system is what we call Aadhaar in India. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the government’s Aadhaar scheme. The Aadhaar Act was launched with the aim to relinquish identity and empowerment to the marginalized section of the society. Aadhaar is currently mandatory for much of the Indian population.
The Right to Privacy played a significant role in the case. On September 26, 2018, a five-judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled in favour of the respondents. After striking down many terms and sections of the Act that were unconstitutional to the Constitution and harmed citizens’ rights, the Court affirmed Aadhaar’s validity. After striking down Sections 33(2) and 57 of the Aadhaar Act, Justice A K Sikri, who wrote the majority of the justices, ruled the Aadhaar Act to be legitimate.
The petitioners expressed a number of concerns, including the citizens’ right to privacy, the prospect of state monitoring, and the possibility of the government’s collection of information for Aadhaar cards being compromised. The petitioners’ questions have cast doubt on UIDAI’s assertion that their system is one of the best in the world and secure enough to keep citizens’ information safe. The Court ruled that the Aadhaar Act was constitutionally legitimate because it was subject to reasonable constitutional constraints.
The majority of the Hon’ble Bench further ruled that upholding the Aadhaar Act will not protect citizens’ right to choose whether or not to obtain an Aadhaar card. Citizens will not have a choice because Aadhaar will be required to access government subsidies and benefits, and if a citizen is denied access to government subsidies and benefits due to a lack of Aadhaar or authentication issues, it may result in a breach of the citizen’s dignity. The Bench also stated that connecting Aadhaar to PAN cards is unnecessary because there is no constitutional justification for it.
Even after striking down Sections 33(2) and 57 of the Act, upholding Aadhaar could result in a violation of the Right to Privacy. To protect people’ right to privacy, the Court explicitly ruled out the idea of private entities using the authentication method or citizens requesting for Aadhaar details. The Court’s action was to preserve people’ right to privacy, demonstrating that the right to privacy is, in fact, a fundamental right.
Drafted By: Bharti Verma, Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Studies, and School of Law.
Published On: September 24, 2021 at 12:39 IST