The top court was examining the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, whether or not citizens can be forced to enrol, and whether the government can make it mandatory to connect these IDs to bank accounts and mobile phones.
So as per the court's verdict, private entities can not use Aadhaar information to authenticate the identity of the person. The government termed the Aadhaar Act, 2016, a Money Bill and passed it in Lok Sabha. Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best, it said.
Several Aadhaar-linked hunger deaths have been reported across India, including in Jharkhand's Simdega district where an 11-year-old girl died of starvation last year, months after her family's ration card, similar to welfare coupons in the U.S., was cancelled because they did not possess an Aadhaar number.
The apex court has done away with Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, which permits private entities to avail Aadhar-related data.
The first petition was filed by former High Court Judge Justice K S Puttaswamy in 2012.
However, it said that Aadhaar is mandatory for PAN linking.
As the government's program expanded, the retired judge's original petition swelled into a movement centered around privacy, security, and denials of welfare entitlements due to authentication problems. This, if not curtailed, was destructive of a limited Constitution and violated an individual's fundamental right to privacy, it was claimed.
The Court further said that minimal demographic and biometric data of citizens are collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for Aadhaar enrolment and the Aadhaar number given to a person is unique and can't be provided to any other person. He has stated what all it can be used for, and who can't make an Aadhaar mandatory anymore.
The Aadhaar leaks and the right to privacy arguments were not enough to get the bench to declare the Aadhaar Act as unconstitutional.
Adopting a similar stand, the UIDAI maintained that Aadhaar was backed by a robust system of security and that there had not been a single breach of biometric data from its end. Section 57 essentially allowed not only the State but also any "body corporate or person" or private entity to demand Aadhaar. The Aadhaar litigation in the Supreme Court has now spanned over six years while at least 26 judges have heard this case at various points in time.
In March, the apex court extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile services, opening new bank accounts and other services until it passes its verdict on the pending constitutional challenge before it.
People can't be denied any government benefits on grounds of having an Aadhaar card.
Calling the BJP's version of the Aadhaar Act "draconian" and "invasive", Congress alleged that about 25 people died of starvation from denial of benefits in the last four years.