Justice DY Chandrachud’s ‘historic dissent’ on Aadhaar verdict hailed

Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud’s dissenting verdict in the Aadhaar case, in which he held Aadhaar to be unconstitutional in its entirety, is being widely hailed by commentators

Photo by Ashok Dutta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Ashok Dutta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud on September 26, 2018 agreed with his brother judges and disagreed on some points, but ultimately held the Aadhaar unique identification project to be unconstitutional. While Aadhaar will in fact remain constitutional minus some sections struck down by the Supreme Court, as Chandrachud’s verdict was a minority one, commentators have hailed the judge for his comments on an individual’s privacy, security and importance of the Rajya Sabha.

Chandrachud held that the rights of 1.2 billion citizens cannot be tested as a mere contract with the Unique Identification Authority of India and that Aadhaar does not pass the test of Article 14 of the Constitution. "Mandating Aadhaar for benefits and services under Section 7 would lead to a situation in which citizens will not be able to live without Aadhaar. Hence, Section 7 of Aadhaar Act is arbitrary and unconstitutional," said the judge.

Expanding on his view that Aadhaar is unconstitutional, Chandrachud said, "Aadhaar programme violates informational privacy, self-determination and data protection; Consequences of not giving Aadhaar number are draconian.” Chandrachud said the seeding of mobile phone numbers to Aadhaar poses a grave danger to individual liberty and asked telecom operators to delete all data they have collected from users.”

On the issue of the Rajya Sabha being bypassed as Lok Sabha passed Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, Chandrachud said, “In view of prevailing cynicism, and aggrandising of power of various authorities, speaker of Lok Sabha's decision can be examined by the court,” and determined that the Lok Sabha’s "Passing of Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill is a fraud on the Constitution". Chandrachud held that the Aadhaar Act should not have been passed as Money Bill, saying the Aadhaar law went beyond the specific grounds for Money Bill under Article 110. Chandrachud added, “Rajya Sabha has an important role. It damages bicameralism if its role is obviated. Differences to be resolved through dialogue. Debasement of institution can't be allowed.”

Commentators and Twitter users showered praise on the judge, who is in line to become Chief Justice of India in a few years.

“I think on the whole it is a good judgement. Though personally, I am happy with Justice Chandrachud's judgement striking it down on the ground that it bothers right to privacy,” former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee told ANI.

“Welcome the balanced Aadhaar Verdict by Hon'ble Supreme Court. Justice Chandrachud delivered a dissent opinion which in my view, is in-sync with global standards on data privacy and protection. BJP govt should have done more to protect consumer data from banks and telcos,” said Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi.

“Another major blow to the BJP govt. Justice Chandrachud says that Aadhaar Act needn't have been a money bill. Through a dictatorial and undemocratic act, the BJP govt passed the Act without the Rajya Sabha debating it,” said senior Supreme Court Lawyer and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“Truth... naked truth, this is what all Urban Naxals are saying all along while having wine and cheese at Khan Market! Hope mafia won't dare to say Justice Chandrachud joined us,” tweeted commentator James Wilson.

Cheers for Justice DY Chandrachud on Twitter—and one reminder

“Sometimes dissent is more important than the majority opinion. Justice Chandrachud is awesome”.

A journalist, however, sounded a note of caution to those “fawning over” Justice Chandrachud. “A reminder to everyone currently fawning over Justice Chandrachud. This is the same judge who authored the judgement that denied an *investigation* into a fellow judge's death because—among other oddities—the statements of four judges had a "ring of truth to them. This is an institution that displayed its state of compromise when it refused to protect one of its own. We'd do well to stop looking for heroes where none exist.”

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