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All Posts | Aug 24,2017

[Press Release] Supreme Court holds that Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right

In a historic judgment, the 9 judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has unanimously held that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right. This judgment was pronounced in a reference made to the 9 judge bench in a batch of Writ Petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme. Dr. Nagarjuna G., member of the Governing body of SFLC.in and Mr.Vickram Crishna, member of the Advisory Board were petitioners in T.C. (Civil) No. 152 of 2013 that was referred to the Constitutional bench.

Mishi Choudhary, President, SFLC.in said:
“This is a milestone in a large history across the world on understanding of the right to privacy. The largest democracy in the world has now spoken on the question which we all face because 20th century constitutions, let alone earlier constitutions did not tend to speak of right to privacy and they certainly didn’t speak of it in terms which allowed its application to the needs of human beings in the 21st century networked society. Supreme Court of India has taken an enormous step which is going to be looked upon by societies of law around the world with enormous importance.”

It was incomprehensible that the existence of this right could be disputed in this day and age, specially considering the Government’s adoption of increasingly data-centric governance models. To transform India into a “digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy” as the Digital India initiative envisions, it is necessary to respect the individual’s right to privacy at all levels of governance, starting with the Constitution itself. The historic 9-judge Constitution Bench of the SC has done extremely well to recognize this fact, demonstrating yet again that the judiciary places the interest of the people above all else.

The petition in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. [W.P.(C). No. 494/2012], was filed in the Supreme Court to challenge various aspects of the Aadhaar Card scheme and its mandatory nature. The petitioners asserted that the collection of biometric data for Aadhaar card is violative of the right to privacy, which is implied under Article 21 as well as various other articles embodying the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of the Constitution of India.

The three-Judge Bench hearing the Puttaswamy case observed in its order dated 11th August, 2015 that the matter entailed questions of importance involving interpretation of the Constitution. Hence, it referred those substantial questions of law to a Constitutional Bench of appropriate strength. Thereafter, a five-Judge Bench was constituted to determine the Bench strength eligible to decide the question of right to privacy. In light of previous judgments on the issue of privacy, this five-Judge Bench referred the question of whether there is a fundamental right to privacy to a larger nine-Judge Constitution Bench on 18th July, 2017.

For more information please contact:
Mishi Choudhary,
President,
SFLC.in
+1 917 325 8594
mishi@softwarefreedom.org

Image Credit: Legaleagle86 at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

All Posts | Aug 24,2017

Supreme Court upholds Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right

In a momentous judgment delivered in the case of K. S Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012] today, the Supreme Court of India affirmed that citizens have a fundamental right to privacy. The nine-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S Khehar, and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, J. Chelameshwar, S.A. Bobde, A. Nazeer, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, and S.K. Kaul, held in a unanimous decision that Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and other freedoms guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.

The nine-judge Bench was tasked with answering the specific question of whether the previous Supreme Court judgments in M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra [AIR 1954 SC 300] (an eight-judge Bench) and Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh [AIR 1963 SC 1295] (a six-judge Bench) were correct in holding that the Constitution of India does not envisage a fundamental right to privacy.

CJI J.S. Khehar read out the operative portion of the judgment:

(i) The decision in M P Sharma which holds that the right to privacy is not protected by the Constitution stands over-ruled;
(ii) The decision in Kharak Singh to the extent that it holds that the right to privacy is not protected by the Constitution stands over-ruled;
(iii) The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
(iv) Decisions subsequent to Kharak Singh which have enunciated the position in (iii) above lay down the correct position in law.

The full text of the judgment is available here.

Image Credit: Legaleagle86 at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

All Posts | Apr 17,2017

Do Supreme Court orders on Aadhaar still matter?

In response to questions from the opposition members in the Rajya Sabha on 10th April, Union Minister for Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad categorically stated that the Aadhaar Act passed in March 2016 and brought in force in September 2016 effectively supersedes the Supreme Court’s interim orders passed between 2013 and 2015. The Supreme Court orders, the latest of which was passed on 15thOctober, 2015, repeatedly restrained the Central and State Governments, in no uncertain terms, from making Aadhaar a mandatory precondition for any purpose whatsoever, until the constitutional challenge to project, pending before the Supreme Court since 2012, is decided one way or the other. In support of this stand, he stated that the Parliament is the sovereign body insofar as law making is concerned and that there has been a new law that has been passed which has not yet been stayed by any court and that the supreme court’s earlier orders may not operate as a stay on a validly made law i.e. the 2016 Aadhaar Act. He further stated that the 2015 orders of the Supreme Court were made in the context where there was no law regulating the project and with the passage of the Aadhaar Act, that defect stands removed and Court’s orders therefore are no longer necessary to be followed. This is the first time that we know that the government has taken such a stand in Parliament. It is interesting to note that this is at variance with Government’s earlier statements on the issues such as Prasad’s own statement on the issue, where he said the Government will approach the Supreme Court for vacating its orders and that of his junior Minister in the Information Technology Ministry when he implied that the Government was interpreting Section 7 of the Aadhaar act in consonance with the Supreme Court orders.

In my humble but considered view, this stand by the Government is legally untenable and seems to be as a result of it appreciating the full import of neither the orders of the court, nor the express language of the Aadhaar Act.

The primary basis of a court passing an interim order is the pending dispute before it. As long as such a dispute is still pending, the orders would ordinarily hold force. In this case, the petitions are still technically pending before the Constitution Bench of the Court. Even if the Government thinks they have become infructuous, they ought to move an application and persuade the court to declare them to be so. The Government has not moved the Court for such a declaration or dismissal of the petitions or vacation of the orders citing the new law. It must be pointed out that this case is different from instances like the Shah Bano story in which a final judgment of the Court was sought to be undone by an Act of Parliament. In this Aadhaar case, the Central Government is still before the court and is subject to the jurisdiction and specific restraint imposed by the court. If any authority wants to exercise power, (even newly conferred power by legislation) contrary to such restraint, it cannot do so without the permission of the Court.

I am not suggesting that a parliamentary legislation cannot in any case override interim directions of the Supreme Court. For that to happen though, there ought to be an express statement in the objects of the Act as introduced in Parliament or elsewhere during the legislation process that this seeks to undo interim directions of the court; or an implied overruling where it becomes virtually impossible for a person to comply with the later legislation as well as the orders of the Court. In this case though, the Act has neither of these ingredients. While Section 7 confers power on various authorities to insist on Aadhaar enrolment as a mandatory pre-requisite, it does not impose a duty to do so. The authorities therefore can comply with the Act without being in contravention of the orders of the Court, by simply not exercising the powers under Section 7. If any authority is desirous of exercising the newly found power, they can do so – but with the leave of the Court.

Moreover, when the interim orders were passed, the absence of law was not the only issue in consideration. In fact, the Central Government had argued that the Appropriation Act at the time read with Allocation of Business Rules under Article 77 provided the legislative basis for the project and that Information Technology Act (IT Act) and the Rules under IT Act have enough statutory safeguards for data protection; and therefore there was no legislative vacuum under which the project was operating. It is perhaps after making note of this stand of the Government that the first interim order passed in 23rd September 2013, stated that “when any person applies to get the Aadhaar Card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law.” In that background, it cannot be stated that this new Act removed any “defect” that was pointed out by the court or which formed the basis of the court’s orders.

The argument that the 2016 Act did not exist before October 2015 and that there is no principle of automatic stay of an Act of parliament that did not exist at the time of passing the order and therefore, October 2015 order would not prohibit authorities from exercising power under Section 7 of the newly enacted Act, seems to be appealing on the face of it. However, a plain unqualified application of that principle leads to absurd results. Assume for one moment, that the 2015 Act did indeed stay the operation of a law – lets call it Act-1. Say Parliament passes another identical Act and lets call it Act-2. Can the Government continue to implement and enforce Act-2 on the ground that there is no automatic stay? Why have constitutional courts at all if legislatures can simply reiterate their earlier position and escape orders of such a court? It must be kept in mind that these interim orders have been passed by a court acting in its capacity as a constitutional court under Article 32 of the Constitution in attempting to provide interim protection to constitutional rights which it prima facie felt were in danger because of the project. The government’s stand that by passing a legislation and doing nothing more, they could effectively overturn the directions, which were passed after the court, before whom the government is still a party, clearly therefore is in dissonance with the constitutional scheme, in which Parliament is not unqualifiedly supreme, but subject to constitutional limitations.

(An earlier version of this article by the same author appeared in : https://aamjanata.com/unlawful-make-aadhaar-mandatory/)

[This is a guest post by Prasanna S, a lawyer who practises in Delhi and has acted for some of the petitioners in the Aadhaar case before the Supreme Court]

All Posts | Jan 05,2017

Aadhaar on trial: The litigations around Aadhaar

The development of Aadhaar over the years has opened a Pandora’s box of litigations against its various claims and processes that range on the spectrum from privacy rights to compulsory carrying of Aadhaar cards by drivers. Prior to the drafting and operation of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services) Act, 2016 (hereinafter Aadhaar Act), the Aadhaar scheme was challenged by many petitions, tagged together under the case of K.S. Puttaswamy & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. However, upon the notification of the Act and various Regulations therewith, fresh petitions have been filed challenging the Aadhaar Act and the Rules in S.G. Vombatkere and Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. Apart from these, there have been a multitude of petitions filed around the Aadhaar scheme and its usage by various state agencies in several forums across the country.

(A detailed time-line of the Aadhaar scheme can be accessed here)

Initial petitions: The pending case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.(W.P.(C) 494/2012), was the first in the series of cases challenging the Aadhaar scheme. The case, along with 15 other matters tagged along with it,is currently pending before the Apex Court, after being referred to the Constitution Bench in 2015. The latest orders issued in this case on 11th August and 15th October, 2015 effectively held that until the issues in the pending case can be decided with finality by the Supreme Court, the use of Aadhaar card is not only purely voluntary, but can only be used on this voluntary basis for six Government schemes i.e. Public Distribution System, LPG, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Employees’ Providend Fund Organization, Pension scheme, and Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojna. Moreover, it also mentioned that no one should be denied any services or benefits that they are rightfully entitled to for the lack of an Aadhaar card.

(Our notes from hearings of this case can be accessed here)

Contempt: In the year that followed the above mentioned orders, there have been innumerable news reports of activities that would tantamount to contempt of these orders. We have attempted to record the violations of these orders where Government agencies and private bodies have not only used Aadhaar for purposes ranging from applying for Padma Shri awards to filing Income Tax appeals, but have also made it mandatory in many cases. A non exhaustive catalog created by us from news reports on these violations can be accessed here. Owing to the massive scale of these incidents, contempt petitions were recently filed in the Supreme Court, in the case of Mathew Thomas v. K.D. Tripathi and Anr. (Contempt Petition(C) 444/2016). Col. Mathew Thomas is also one of the petitioners in the cases tagged under the above-mentioned K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India. As these claims arise from the orders given in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, the Supreme court has connected the contempt proceedings to it and are thereby, pending further listing and hearing.

Scholarship row: The Ministry of Minority Affairs, through a letter dated 14th July, 2016 had made Aadhaar a mandatory requirement to apply for the Pre-Matric, Post Matric, and Merit Scholarship schemes for the years 2016-2017, along with making the registration possible solely through an online platform. This is a scheme that provides scholarships to students of recognized minority communities for high school education on the basis of certain criteria. This order was challenged before the Supreme Court as well as the Delhi High Court in two separate petitions.

  • Supreme Court: In the case of All Bengal Minority Students Council and Anr. v. Union of India and Anr. (W.P.(C) 686/2016), the Supreme Court drew attention to the last order by the five Judge Bench on 15th October, 2015 in the case of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, where it made the use of Aadhaar card purely voluntary, and ordered to stay the implementation of the letters issued by the Ministry of Minority Affairs that made Aadhaar compulsory for applying for Pre matric, Post matric and Merit based scholarships. In this order dated 14th September, 2016, a two Judge Bench also asked the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to remove the mandatory requirement for Aadhaar from the National Scholarship Portal as well.

  • Delhi High Court: In a petition filed by the Nasimuddin Educational and Charitable Trust (W.P(C) 7931/2016) that challenged the same orders by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the Delhi High Court acknowledged the order passed by the Supreme Court on the issue in the above mentioned case. However, it recognized that the Apex Court had not provided any insight on the mandatory online application for the scholarships. Therefore, on the exclusionary nature of the application procedure by limiting it to only online applications, the Delhi High Court has agreed to hear the case on 7th December, 2016 subsequent to the filing of a response by the Union of India and other respondents. Although the Delhi High Court website states that this case was disposed off on 7th December, 2016, details of any order or judgment are unavailable on their online portal.

Mandatory for PDS: It was reported that upon Aadhaar being made mandatory by Karnataka State Government on 29th July, 2016 to avail benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS), a petition was filed challenging it. The High Court has subsequently as per the reports issued notice to the State and district governments in this regard.

(We have been unable to locate and procure the official records/ documents of the case, and would appreciate assistance/information regarding them)

Need to carry Aadhaar card while driving: In a press release, reportedly issued by the Cyberabad Police Commissionerate on 23rd July, it was said that Aadhaar card has been made mandatory to be carried alongside other relevant documents for people driving any vehicle in Telangana. Challenging this compulsion, the Hyderabad High Court in an order reported to be issued on 18th October, 2016 has asked the Police commissioner to justify the legal basis for mandating carrying of Aadhaar card for all drivers.

(We have been unable to locate and procure the official records/ documents of the case, and would appreciate assistance/information regarding them)

Challenge to Aadhaar Act: The Aadhaar Act was proposed in the Lok Sabha by the Government as a money Bill as the core component of the Act was sought to be the distribution and dispersal of subsidies and benefits from the Consolidated Fund of India. It was passed in the Parliament on 1st March, 2016. (Our report on the parliamentary proceedings and discussions on the Aadhaar Bill can be accessed here)

The challenges to this Act have been two fold, with one petition challenging the passing of this Bill as a money Bill, and the second one alleging that the Act and the subsequent regulations passed therein are unconstitutional. A brief synopsis of these two petitions pending in the Supreme Court is as follows:

  • Money Bill challenge: Jairam Ramesh, the former Union Rural Development Minister filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court challenging the passing of the Aadhaar Act as a money Bill, alleging that the Bill did not qualify for an action under Article 110 of the Constitution that provided criteria for categorizing Bills as money Bills. In the hearing that took place on 10th May, 2016, it was argued in the case of Jairam Ramesh v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 231/2016) that the Aadhaar Act did not comprise solely of management of funds of the Consolidated Fund of India, instead it was only a part of the Bill that included amongst other things, the roles and responsibilities of enrollment agencies, requesting entities, and authentication agencies, and the information to be given to users. The Attorney General argued that as the determination of a Bill as money Bill is at the discretion of the Lok Sabha Speaker, it was not open for judicial review by the Supreme Court. The case is next scheduled for hearing on 13th February, 2017.

  • Challenge to the Aadhaar Act: A fresh petition, S.G. Vombatkere & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. (W.P.(C) 797/2016) challenging the Aadhaar Act and the subsequent Rules and Regulations released therein was listed in the Supreme court on 21st October, 2016. However, as the petition was listed before a bench that included Justice L.N. Rao, who had previously represented the Union of India as the Additional Solicitor General in the earlier Aadhaar petitions, the Supreme Court ordered the matter to be listed before a different bench to eliminate any conflict of interest. Further, at a subsequent hearing that took place on 28th October, 2016, notice was issued to the Union of India in this case by the Apex Court. On 5th January, 2017, this case was mentioned in front of CJI Khehar, and Justices N V Ramana, and DY Chandrachud, to be heard on an urgent basis due to the privacy concerns involved and the collection of biometric data by private entities as well. However, the Supreme Court refused to expedite the process and reportedly said, “We are not inclined to give immediate hearing as there are limited resources but biometric data collection by private agencies is not a great idea.”

Watch this space for updates on these cases/other cases around the Aadhaar scheme.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International

All Posts | Aug 17,2016

Cataloguing violations of Supreme Court’s orders on Aadhaar

The journey of the Aadhaar scheme can be traced back from its inception in 2006, following which it has undergone scrutiny by way of two Bills that aimed to provide it statutory backing, one Parliamentary StandingCommittee evaluation, and multiple challenges in the Supreme Court. With respect to the petitions pending in the Supreme Court that challenge the scheme on various grounds, the latest order by the Apex Court on 15th October, 2015 had held the following three things:

  • the use of Aadhaar will be purely voluntary

  • no one will be denied any service for the lack of an Aadhaar card

  • pending decision by the Supreme court on the legality of this scheme, Aadhaar can only be used (on a voluntary basis) for dispersal of benefits and subsidies under PDS, LPG, MNREGA, PM Jan Dhan Yojna, National Social Assistance Program, and Employees’ Providend Fund Organization. (A copy of the order can be accessed here)

 While these petitions, tagged together under K.S. Puttaswamy & Ors. v. Union OIndia & Ors. (W.P.(C) 494/2012) are awaiting final judgment by the Supreme Court, the Aadhaar scheme received statutory backing in March 2016 as the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services) Bill was passed as a money bill in the budget session of the Parliament. This Act permits the state and central governments to make the Aadhaar card mandatory for availing certain government schemes and benefits under Section 7; and Section 8 enumerates the procedure to be followed by entities collecting the biometric and other information before and while collecting this data from the individual. Although, this Act has received the President’s assent, only a part of it was notified by the central government on 13th July, 2016. This part pertains to provisions on the establishment of Authority; the roles and responsibilities of the Chairman and other members; the powers of central government to issue directions in policy related matters, make rules and regulations for the various processes of the scheme;the use of Aadhaar number by private entities and others to establish identity of an individual, among other things. However, in absence of the entire Act being notified, these provisions are the only ones that are legally enforceable under the Act.

 At present, there are two parallel frameworks that are being used for determining the legality and applicability of Aadhaar; one, the Supreme Court order dated 15th October, 2015 that restricts its voluntary use to six government schemes, and condemns making in mandatory for receiving any benefit or service; second, the provisions under the Aadhaar Act, 2016. With both of them having their separate place, and according separate operational status to this scheme, there have been questions regarding the instruction that should take precedence and be followed in the interim of the pending Supreme Court cases, and the Aadhaar Act being notified. Currently, the operative portion of the Act, Section 7, that enables central and state governments to make it mandatory for availing services and benefits, has not yet been notified by the central government. Even if Section 7 were to be notified, the aforementioned Supreme Court order would have cast the mandatory status of Aadhaar in doubt. However, in light of the lack of legal enforceability of this section, it may be definitively inferred that the Apex Court’s order that makes the use of Aadhaar voluntary, and limits its scope to the six mentioned schemes should be the law of the land.

 Having established that, it is interesting to note that there have been an excessively large number of violations of this Supreme Court order. Multiple state governments and departments made it mandatory to have an Aadhaar card for availing benefits and services like LPG. Moreover, the use of this scheme was not limited to the six government schemes as laid down by the Supreme Court and has been used, and even made mandatory at times for a wide and diverse range of purposes extending from scholarships, banking, registration of fishing boats, filing income tax returns, conducting ultrasounds, to name a few. Incidentally, recently in the monsoon session of the Parliament, the Rajya Sabha witnessed a disruption and subsequent adjournments during the day on 28th July, 2016 over orders being given by various the state governments making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits like PDS, and LPG. However, the Union Minister for Urban Development,Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs, Venkaiah Naidu reassured the Members of the Upper House that Aadhaar is not mandatory and directions will be issued if necessary to clarify it.

To corroborate the claim made by many in the Rajya Sabha, we undertook the exercise of compiling the reported incidents where the Supreme Court orders dated 11th August and 15th October, 2015 were violated by the governments and private entities.

All Posts | Jul 13,2016

Journey of Aadhaar – Graphical Illustration

The Aadhaar scheme has undergone scrutinies and challenges at various levels since its inception as the flagship program of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in 2006.  In its journey, there have been two separate Bills aimed at according it a statutory status, an extensive scrutiny by a Standing Committee, multiple challenges in the Supreme Court, and heated debates in the Parliament over the Aadhaar Bill, 2016 (now the Aadhaar Act). The following is a graphical illustration of the timeline, recording the entire Aadhaar process from 2006 to its present status. A text version of this timeline can be found here.

Graphical Timeline of the Journey of Aadhaar

 

All Posts | May 21,2016

Journey of Aadhaar

The Aadhaar scheme has undergone scrutinies and challenges at various levels since its inception as the flagship program of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in 2006. In its journey, there have been two separate Bills aimed at according it a statutory status, an extensive scrutiny by a Standing Committee, multiple challenges in the Supreme Court, and heated debates in the Parliament over the Aadhaar Bill, 2016 (now the Aadhaar Act). The following is a time-line, recording the entire Aadhaar process from 2006-2016.

2006:March 3rd: Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology gave an administrative approval for a scheme to issue unique ID for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

2006:December 4th: Constitution of an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) to collate two schemes -the National Population Register under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the UID scheme.

2007: First meeting of the EgoM took place where the need for creating an identity related resident database was recognized, thereby leading to the creation of Aadhaar.

2009: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was constituted for the purpose of issuing unique identification numbers by the Central Government. It was decided that the UIDAI will be executive in nature and function under the Planning Commission. Nandan M. Nilekani was appointed as the first chairman of this Authority.

2010: December 3rd: The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 (NIAI Bill) was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the UPA government.

2010: December 10th: The NIAI Bill, 2010 was referred by the Lok Sabha Speaker to a Standing Committee for examination and a report thereafter

2011:December: The Standing committee on Finance under Yashwant Sinha issued a report on the NIAI Bill and rejected the bill in its initial form. It gave recommendations, including the requirement for an over arching privacy legislation and data protection law before the continuance of the scheme, and expressed concern about private agencies being contracted for the collection of sensitive information.

2012: Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, former Karnataka High Court Judge, filed a petition (W.P.(C) 494/2012) before the Supreme Court contending that Aadhaar does not have any statutory basis, and moreover violates fundamental rights of equality & privacy granted to every individual under the Constitution.

2013: Supreme Court in an interim order stated that no person should suffer for not having an Aadhaar card, even if it has been made mandatory by certain authorities to avail benefits (Order dated 23rd September, 2013)

2014: An order is issued by the Supreme Court in the case of UIDAI v. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) (SLP (Crl) 2524/2014), (subsequently tagged with Justice Puttaswamy's petition) asking agencies to revoke any orders made by them making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits. Moreover, it also forbid the UIDAI from sharing any information in the Aadhaar database with any agency without the data subject's consent. (Order dated 24th March, 2014)

2015: August: Three-judge bench of Supreme Court in an order restricted the use of Aadhaar to schemes of LPG, and PDS, and held that no one would be denied the benefits rightfully entitled to them for the lack of an Aadhaar card. It also refers the question of right to privacy as a fundamental right to citizens of India to a Constitutional Bench. (Order dated 11th August,2015)

2015: October: A five judge bench constituted for seeking clarifications on the August order, reiterates that Aadhaar is not mandatory for availing any benefits, but in the interim, expands the scope of the scheme to PDS, LPG, MNREGA, National Social Assistance Program, PM's Jan Dhan Yojna, and Employees' Providend Fund Organization. It further asks the CJI to expeditiously constitute a Bench for final hearing of the matter. (Order dated 15th October,2015)

2016: March 3rd: Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services)Bill introduced as a money bill in Lok Sabha

2016: March 11th: Aadhaar Bill, 2016 discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha with no amendments, and forwarded to the Rajya Sabha for their consideration

2016: March 16th: Rajya Sabha sends the Bill back to Lok Sabha with its recommendations. Lok Sabha does not consider the recommendations and passes the bill in its original form.

2016: March 25th : President gives assent to the Aadhaar Bill, 2016, according it the status of a law, but the Act will take a few months to come into force.

2016: March 26th: The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services) Act, 2016 is notified in the Gazette of India.

2016: April 7th: Jairam Ramesh, member of Rajya Sabha, moves a petition (W.P. (C) 231/2016) in the Supreme Court challenging the introduction and passing of Aadhaar Act as a money bill.

2016: April 25th: The Supreme Court wishes to hear the Attorney General on 10th May, 2016 before issuing notice in the matter moved by Jairam Ramesh.

2016: May 10th :With respect to Jairam Ramesh's petition, the Attorney General argues in the Supreme Court that decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker to treat a Bill as money bill is not open for judicial review. However, the Supreme Court asks Jairam Ramesh to submit a note of their submissions & case laws and adjourns the hearing till July.

Image Credits: Projet de biométrie. Credit: Benoit Crouzet/Flickr CC BY 2.0