On March 3, 2016, during the budget session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill in Lok Sabha as a money bill. Jaitley’s decision was criticised by the Opposition parties. The Aadhaar Bill became an Act after it was tabled and passed as a money bill in Lok Sabha as a money bill is only required to pass in the lower house (Lok Sabha).
Later in 2017, the Aadhaar Act came under the scanner of the Supreme Court when pleas challenging the validity of Aadhaar were filed with the right to privacy attached to it. A nine-judge bench then pronounced its verdict saying that the right to privacy was inherent in the right to life, liberty and speech, but not without ‘reasonable curbs’ when it came to national security, fighting crime and distribution of state benefits.
The judgment became the standard for Aadhaar’s validity. Critics have since opposed the move as an 'intrusive tool open to misuse' by the government.
In 2012, Aadhaar got its first challenger in former judge in Karnataka High Court justice K Puttaswamy. Justice Puttaswamy challenged the Government of India over making Aadhaar mandatory. He had filed a writ petition in 2012 and over the last five years, 26 other petitions have joined him, challenging the project.
Puttaswamy was appointed judge of the Karnataka High Court in November 1977. He was appointed as the first Vice-Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Bangalore Bench in September 1986. In November 1989, he was appointed as First Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Administrative Tribunal constituted under the Uniform Administrative Tribunals Act.
The following year, eight new pleas were filed in the apex court. Four challenges were subquently filed in 2014 and five in 2015.
Another 12 challenges cropped up since the Narendra Modi government passed the Aadhaar Act in 2016.
Some noted personalities also filed petitions against the Aadhaar Act. They are S.G. Vombatkere, Aruna Roy, Shantha Sinha, Kalyani Menon Sen, Binoy Viswam, Mathew Thomas.
Indian Oil Corporation Limited has also filed five petitions against the project. The PSU had knocked the SC door after its earlier verdict which said its direct benefit transfer for LPG consumers (DBTL) scheme can be availed only by those persons who have secured Aadhaar cards. IOCL had filed a plea in the apex court seeking ‘clarification or modification’ of the order.
West Bengal is the only state to challenge the government’s Aadhaar Act.
Interestingly, one plea has been filed by the Aadhaar’s governing body itself –UIDAI, challenging a Bombay High Court verdict which directed the UIDAI to submit biometric information of those accused in criminal trials to the CBI.
Also, there have also been six interventions admitted by the court. Bengaluru MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has filed an intervention in Aruna Roy’s case and the Centre for Civil Society has filed one for Puttaswamy’s case.