A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is all set to pronounce its judgment on Aadhaar's constitutional validity on Wednesday morning. The project on the 'national identity card' was widely challenged by critics for allegedly violating the statute.
Earlier, after a hearing that lasted 38 days spanning four months, the Supreme Court had on May 10 reserved its verdict on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had then directed all parties concerned to file their written submissions to put forth their case.
That was the second longest hearing in the history of the apex court, the first being the Kesavananda Bharti case that questioned if Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution was unlimited, to the extent of taking away fundamental rights. That hearing had gone on for five months (68 days) in 1973.
The SC was examining if the 12-digit Aadhaar number violates the Right to Privacy, which was declared a fundamental right by the apex court last year.
The government had made Aadhaar compulsory for a host of services and welfare schemes, apart from bank accounts, PAN cards, mobile phone services, passports and driving licences.
During the arguments, the Centre had defended Aadhaar on multiple grounds, the foremost being that it ensured proper distribution of benefits to millions and prevented siphoning of funds.
The Centre had strongly defended its decision to seed Aadhaar numbers with mobile phones, telling the top court that it could have been hauled up for contempt if the verification of mobile users was not undertaken. However, the court had said the government had misinterpreted its order and used it as a tool to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users.
The bench also expressed concern over data leak amid the controversy over the illegal use of Facebook data in the US elections. The government and the Unique Identification Authority of India, however, contended that the Aadhaar data was safe and could not be breached.