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Aadhaar: Constitutional Bench To Valdiate Linking Of Aadhar With Mobile

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By संदेश हिवाळे (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

NEW DELHI: Refusing to issue an interim stay order on the mandatory linking of Aadhar with mobile numbers and Bank accounts, the Supreme Court of India has on Friday made it clear that a constitutional bench will decide on the validity of 'mandatory linking of Aadhar with mobile numbers and bank accounts' in the last week of November. The apex court was hearing to a bunch of petitions challenging the mandatory Aadhar-linking on the grounds of violation of privacy.

Interestingly, the mandatory linking of Aadhar number with mobile numbers was ordered by the apex court itself on February 6, in the Lokniti Foundation case. Later on, the same rule was passed on to the bank accounts by the Central government. Petitioners argued that the Telecom companies have been creating panic among the public by sending out text messages, warning customers of deactivation of services on the account of 'not linking mobile number with Aadhar'. Responding to this, the Supreme Court issued a firm guideline to not send bulk messages while asking the operators to mention the last day for linking mobile numbers with Aadhar.

For Bank accounts, the Central government has made providing an Aadhar number mandatory to even open a basic savings account in any of the banks situated in India. The rule will extend to all categories of Bank accounts.

Analysts are of the view that the Supreme Court may uphold the mandatory linking of mobile numbers as it helps in keeping a check on anti-social elements. However, even the petitioner's argument looks powerful as the Constitution guarantees the right to privacy, which cannot be infringed by the government. Therefore, everything now depends on the constitutional bench and how it interprets the right to privacy!

Another petitioner, an NGO, argued that the government is gradually making Aadhar a universal ID by forcing people to accept it for various services. "Today we are asked to link Aadhar with a host of services, this will slowly extend to all the remaining services which will be offered by the government. So, what the government will facilitate here is tracking an individual's presence by simply entering their Aadhar number or the UID. This is clearly a violation of the right to privacy, envisaged in the constitution.

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