Aadhaar: Modi Govt’s ‘surveillance tool’ Sec 57 quashed, says Congress

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said for BJP, Aadhaar is “a tool of oppression and surveillance” and thanked the Supreme Court for supporting the “Congress vision and protecting India”

NH photo by Pramod Pushkarna
NH photo by Pramod Pushkarna

NH Web Desk

“For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment. For the BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance. Thank you Supreme Court for supporting the Congress vision and protecting India,” tweeted Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, September 18. Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court declared the Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions including Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act. Due to this, private companies in India can now no longer demand Aadhaar to provide services, such as bank accounts and mobile phone connections.

In quashing Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, “the honourable Supreme Court has firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhar by the Central Government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the United Progressive Alliance government, said the Congress party in an official statement released by senior Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Kapil Sibal and Randeep Singh Surjewala on Wednesday. The statement said the apex court’s decision was “an endorsement of the UPA’s vision for Aadhaar and a rejection of the NDA’s clumsy attempt to gather meta data on its citizens without any rationale”

The Congress statement made the following points:

  • Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for mobile phones and bank linking. The Congress-led UPA’s vision of Aadhaar was always voluntary and never mandatory
  • First time that a majority of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held that the decisions of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha can be subject to judicial review, which marks the beginning of a new era of accountability for the Speaker. Congress said the apex court has upheld the arguments it put forth in this regard
  • Section 57 being struck down as unconstitutional is important because the BJP-led NDA Government was pushing an agenda of mass convergence through the intimidation of private companies which had begun insisting on Aadhaar details
  • Pointing to Justice DY Chandrachud’s dissenting opinion on classification of the Aadhaar Act as a ‘Money Bill, and holding that passage of bills in such a manner by the Government undermined the role of the Upper House of Parliament, Congress said this was a "scathing indictment of this Government’s clandestine and dishonest approach to its Parliamentary responsibilities”

Congress pledges to re-examine Aadhaar Act if it wins power

The Congress said that BJP Government was aware that their law on Aadhaar could not pass the parliamentary muster, which is why it was classified as a Money Bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP did not have the numbers. A Money Bill passed by the Lok Sabha cannot be voted out by the Rajya Sabha; the Upper House can only add modifications and suggestions, which the Lok Sabha need not accept. Congress said that the BJP knew that the Congress would never approve the former’s “draconian and invasive version of Aadhaar”, hence it took the Money Bill route. The Congress, while accepting the Court’s decision to uphold passage of the bill through the Money Bill route, said it was inclined to agree with Justice Chandrachud’s dissenting opinion saying the Money Bill route effectively made the Act entirely illegal.

Saying that the passage of the law violated both the fundamental right to privacy and was a gross abuse of the Money Bill route, Congress said that if it returns to power, it pledges to examine the law and its provisions to adhere to the stated objectives of ensuring direct benefit of governmental schemes to the poor and deprived while upholding the right to privacy in its entirety. The main Opposition party said it stands for an Aadhaar which is voluntary, backed by a “valid law”, and provides a genuinely stable, secure and viable alternative to existing forms of identification aimed at making it the most important tool for delivery of benefits, rather than invasion of privacy.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 26 Sep 2018, 5:18 PM