Aadhaar hearing: Card may serve as an opportunity for those with no identity proof, says SC judge

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, however, disagreed and said the Aadhaar Act’s intent is not to give anyone the benefit of an identity.

Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud on Tuesday said the Centre’s Aadhaar programme was an opportunity for people who do not have any proof of identity to obtain one, PTI reported.

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Chandrachud is one of the five judges who are part of the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench, which is in the process of hearing petitions that challenge the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and also the government’s move to make it mandatory to link Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile numbers and Permanent Account Numbers.

“You may be wrong to assume that every Indian has one or the other proof of identity,” Chandrachud told the petitioners. “Aadhaar provides people with no proof of identity an opportunity to be enabled with an identity to access their entitlements.”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, however, disagreed. “If you have no proof of identity, you cannot get Aadhaar in the first place,” Sibal said. “The intent of the Aadhaar Act is not to give anyone the benefit of an identity. The Act is a mechanism to authenticate identities. And even then, why should the authentication of identity be linked to biometrics?”

Justice Sikri suggested that the government’s aim behind the Aadhaar programme appears to be to have “at least one identity with biometrics” to avoid fake identity cards.

The opposing parties argued about the Centre’s attempt to make the Aadhaar card the only proof of identity required to avail benefits and services. “So, ultimately you are saying that the violation in Aadhaar is an absence of choice,” Chandrachud told Sibal.

Sibal agreed and claimed that the programme seeks to make “the state our master and we its underlings”.

On February 1, Chandrachud had reprimanded advocate Shyam Divan for purportedly calling him an “Aadhaar judge”.

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