Aadhaar: 5-judge Supreme Court bench reserves verdict after hearing the matter for 38 days

After hearing the much-debated Aadhaar matter for 38 days, the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has reserved the judgment. The hearing had begun on January 17, 2018.

Below are the highlights from the arguments advanced on the last day of the Aadhaar Hearing:

  • Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium: 
    • Is Aadhaar really affirmative action? Is the act an enabler or is it in the guise of enabler? The act is not an instrumentality to deliver services. It is only a means of identification. We have to read the true purpose of law and whether the law seeks to achieve that purpose. Dignity and autonomy is not preserved by section 7 of the Aadhaar Act.
    • Aadhaar Act does not have a proper purpose. A claim to a proper purpose is not proper purpose. Authentication is at the heart of the Act. Failure of authentication is a ground for denial of services.
  • Chandrachud, J: An act like Aadhaar needs a regulator which is absent.
  • Gopal Subramanium: The state seeks to take away our data without the backing of a strong data protection framework. Words like “grant of subsidies, benefits and services” are expressions of condescension in Section 7. They are not treated like an entitlement. The burden is on the people to authenticate and establish their identity. Should the State logically be the holder of such information?
  • Chandrachud, J: Is “subsidy” a benefit or a right, that has to be decided.
  • Gopal Subramanium: 
    • Private players have access to Aadhaar data. There is no regime of protection. There is no vertical protection.
    • Section 7 has been interpreted to be mandatory. Can’t make citizens subservient under section 7 and call rights, benefits.
    • The Act is to be struck down completely as it fails all three tests laid down in Puttaswamy. There’s no legitimate state aim as the real aim is different from the purported aim. There was no law when Aadhaar was implemented and there’s no proportionality.
    • This Court consciously overruled ADM Jabalpur. The doctrine of possibility of misuse does not apply here because there is actual denial of rights in the case of Aadhaar.
    • Aadhaar Act should be completely struck down and the architecture and database must be destroyed.

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  • Senior Advocate Arvind P. Datar:
    • Aadhaar cannot be a money bill. At most, it can be a financial bill of category 3 under Article 117(3) of the Constitution.
    • Doctrine of severability will not apply to Aadhaar, since the doctrine is only applicable to validly enacted laws.
    • Mohd.Saeed Siddiqui and Yogendra Jaiswal should be overruled. Finality of speaker’s decision doesn’t mean that the bill cannot be subject to judicial review.
    • Under PMLA, Aadhaar is not just confined to banks but has gone beyond it’s scope. Aadhaar is needed for mutual funds, insurance policies and credit cards as well, among other things.
    • Only magic words like black money, national security and terrorism are being thrown around by the State. The justification of a law for proportionality cannot be a ritualistic exercise. Aadhaar is not justified under Article 300A of the Constitution.
    • Linking Aadhaar will never solve problems of money laundering and black money because the source of such money is different. This is colorable exercise of power. Black money and money laundering is being used as a ruse to collect people’s biometrics.
    • Section 57 should go completely. Anything outside Section 7 is completely violative of the Puttaswamy judgement. S.139AA of the income tax act is inconsistent with the Aadhaar Act.
    • There should be an option of opting out of Aadhaar.

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  • Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram:
    • AG’s reading of the word “only” in Article 110(g) is erroneous. There is no need to tamper the language of the Article.
    • Section 57 travels beyond Article 110 of the Constitution. Clause (g) of 110 (1) must be read very restrictively. The provision has to be incidental to (a) to (f) to come under (g). Clause (g) is not a substantive provision.
    • The implications of passing a non money bill as a money bill are very serious: One half of the parliament is virtually disabled from making any amendments. It denudes the highest constitutional authority of the country, the President of India.
    • There is no provision in the Constitution which gives the court the power of severability in case of an invalidly enacted legislation. The Australian constitution has such a provision.
    • The bill was passed without the effective participation of the Rajya Sabha and without assent from the President. The court cannot save a legislation that is fundamentally unconstitutional.
    • Pith and Substance doctrine cannot be applied in cases where the applicability of Article 110 is being interpreted. Only limited to entries of legislative lists.
    • The Court must strike down the Aadhaar Act as it is not a money bill. It is a mockery of Article 110.

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  • Senior Advocate K.V Vishwanathan: 
    • Respondents’ argument that the least intrusive method is not a facet of proportionality is completely erroneous. You can’t balance your own bundle of rights. Balancing Right to food and right to privacy is wrong.
    • Section 59 doesn’t protect Aadhaar during the time it was not an Act. Its a wrong submission made by the state. To rely on the exception handling mechanism is ultra vires the Act.
    • If it’s my rights and their duty, then they cannot discharge their duty by subjecting the poor and downtrodden of this country to a technological menace.
    • There can be no data collection and digitalization of records. The underpinning of the Aadhaar Act is authentication of individuals.
    • Harmonization of rights is being mis-applied by the respondents.

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To read the highlights from the rejoinder submitted by the petitioners, click here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of AG KK Venugopal on the issue of money bill, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Zoheb Hossain, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, click here , here , here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by ASG Tushar Mehta, click here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by the Attorney General, click here, here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the PowerPoint Presentation made by the CEO of UIDAI, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, CU Singh, Sanjay Hegde and Counsel Jayna Kothari, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates KV Viswanathan and Anand Grover, click here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here, here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source: twitter.com/SFLCin

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