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SC nulls Aadhaar, constitution bench will hear 'right to privacy' challenge [UPDATE: READ ORDER]

The Supreme Court today said an Aadhaar card was not mandatory for availing government social welfare schemes.

The court said this while referring to the constitution bench a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds that it violates the right to privacy.

An apex court bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said that it can be used as an alternative for the distribution of articles such as foodgrains as well as kerosene and LPG under the public distribution system.

But under no circumstance can the authorities insist on possession of the Aadhaar card even for the distribution of articles under the public distribution system.

Pronouncing the order, the court said the government will give wide publicity to this via electronic and print media and radio.

The court also recorded the statement by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that no personal information collected at the time of issuing the Aadhaar card will be shared with any person or the authorities.

The court said the hearing by the constitution bench on the challenge to the Aadhaar card will be held as early as possible.

Earlier, the bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar took note of the “apparent unresolved issues” while referring the matter to the constitution bench.

Rohatgi had argued last week that there was no fundamental right to privacy under the constitution.

Also read: CCG NLU Delhi's coverage of today.

The court ordered:

Having considered the matter, we are of the view that the balance of interest would be best served, till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench if the Union of India or the UIDA proceed in the following manner:

1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;

3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar 16 Page 16 card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;

4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.

SC Full Aadhaar Card Judgment

SC Aadhaar Interim Order

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