RS Sharma is the former CEO of UIDAI and is currently the TRAI chairman
I can say that as someone who has worked with Aadhaar as its CEO for the initial four years and who has had some role in the project’s design and implementation, I feel very happy that the Supreme Court upheld various viewpoints which we have been saying. We had always been saying that Aadhaar is secure and safe; it has actually followed the principle of privacy preservation; and it does not violate the Right to Privacy. Beyond that in an individual capacity I cannot comment anything. The verdict is a great victory for the common man.
The team I was provided with and working with (former chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India) Nandan Nilekani were the two standout aspects of my tenure with Aadhaar. Nilekani was the man with vision. The passion and team spirit with which our team worked only showed that nothing was impossible.
I personally sat over two weekends and wrote the code for the identification. It showed us that nothing is impossible, and Aadhaar as a concept was not really complicated. If the team would not have built Aadhaar the way it has been built on the principles of security, safety and privacy, we would not have succeed in defending Aadhaar like the way we have been able to. On Section 57 of the Act being struck off, there are two parts. The first part is Aadhaar as a digital identity infrastructure, which serves as a foundational identity infrastructure.
The second is ensuring data security, intrusion and securing the uniqueness. All these have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The other part involves the application of the infrastructure of the artefact. How it is applied to the identity infrastructure which can be used for multiple domains? Here, the Supreme Court has given its observations, and I have nothing to add or subtract from there. The application of the identity, which has been struck down from one domain — private companies — must not be confused with digital identity.
The court has hailed Aadhaar as a wonderful tool and has recognised it for empowering the marginalised people. It has observed that this tool is helping them receive subsidies and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and that it is a safe and secure artefact. From my perspective, this is a very important aspect.