After a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2017 that the right to privacy was indeed a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution, all eyes were on the five-judge Bench of the apex court adjudicating on not only the legal validity of Aadhaar but also its usage.
Indeed, it was the Aadhaar case that required clarity on the right to privacy in the first place. The apex court delivered an interim order in March and a full one in September.
While the court upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act, albeit by a four-to-one majority, it severely restricted the parameters for its use. Thus, starkly in contrast to the coercive annoyance that Aadhaar had become over the years — with it becoming a pre-condition for everything from mobile services to banking to health care to monthly food rations — its use has now become voluntary.
But the court ruled that Aadhaar will continue to be mandatory for state-sponsored welfare schemes and will need to be linked to the permanent account numbers for income tax purposes.