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All Posts | Apr 27,2017

Supreme Court hears the Aadhaar-PAN case; updates from Day 1

The cases for linking Aadhaar to PAN and making it mandatory for Income Tax returns were heard before a bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Alok Bhushan in the Supreme Court on 26th April, 2017. Senior Counsels Arvind Datar, and Shyam Divan were representing the petitioners in these cases, Binoy Viswam v. Union of India (W.P.(C)247/2017), S.G. Vombatkere & Anr. v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 277/2017) respectively, whilst the Union of India was represented by the Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi.

At the outset it was clarified that in this hearing, the challenges to privacy, or the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act would not be raised, and the arguments by the petitioners would be limited to the parliamentary action of introducing Section 139AA to the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Senior Counsel, Arvind Datar set the stage by pointing out that insertion of Section 139AA was not part of original finance bill, and was introduced on the last day when 30-40 statutes were amended. Section 139AA makes Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns from 1st July, 2017, is required to be quoted when applying for PAN, and in case of failure in linking Aadhaar, the PAN will be deemed invalid.

Mr. Datar argued that Section 139AA should be struck down on the following grounds:

  1. It is ultra vires Article 14 of the Constitution:

  • Aadhaar is only eligible for residents, but under IT Act, there are 12 different types of categories, like HUFs, companies, and others that are eligible for PAN, and is not therefore limited to individuals. Under the classic Article 14 test of reasonable classification, the categories created should have an intelligible differentia, and the classification done, should have a rational nexus to the objective sought to be achieved. Mr. Datar argued that the classification between natural, and non natural persons has no intelligible differentia as proviso for Section 139AA makes the PAN invalid for individuals who do not have Aadhaar, but the income tax act, and Section 139A does not make any such distinction for either filing of income tax returns or for issuance of PAN. Also, the rational nexus between the objective for linking Aadhaar, curbing black money, or avoiding fake PAN cards would not be achieved by solely making individuals as a part of this process, and not other assessees.

  • Moreover, under Section 114B of the Income Tax Rules, having a PAN is mandatory for continuing various activities, like buying property, applying for a credit card, among other things. It was argued by Mr. Datar that by treating ‘individuals’ differently than other categories, they are put at a disadvantageous position; hence, violating their fundamental right under Article 14.

  • Furthermore, Mr. Datar argued that under the test of arbitrariness of Article 14, there have been previous judgments of the Supreme Court where a legislative action has been struck down on grounds of arbitrariness. He cited the case of Malpe Vishwananth Acharya v. State of Maharashtra ((1998) 2 SCC 1) in this regard.

  • Towards the end, Mr. Datar asked for the introduction of a facet of proportionality in Article 14, and put forth a doctrine of ‘rational connection’ devised by Chief Justice of Israel. This doctrine attempted to ensure that along with having a rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved, the element of proportionality of the measure, in the classification process should also be taken into account.

  1. It was over-ruling the orders previously issued by the Supreme Court:

  • On multiple occasions and in various cases, the Apex Court has maintained that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory, and will be voluntary. Section 139AA, that makes it mandatory to have Aadhaar for applying for PAN as well as filing IT returns over-rules these SC orders. The legislature would have to remove the basis of such orders by amending Section 3 of Aadhaar Act and make it mandatory for every resident to have an Aadhaar. Without making such a change in the parent act, it cannot make it mandatory under the Income Tax Act.

  • Mr. Datar corroborated this with a judgement from the Supreme Court that held that direction of the court become the basis of a mandamus, and cannot be taken away in an indirect fashion (Madan Mohan Pathak v. Union of India (1978 AIR 803). He stated, “my right to not get an Aadhaar cannot be taken away in this indirect fashion.” He also pointed to a judgment, that held that cannot over-rule Supreme Court judgement, but remove basis ((1970) 1 SCC 509).

Post lunch, Mr. Shyam Divan, representing the second petition, S.G.Vombatkere v. Union of India commenced his arguments. He initially laid the context of his petition by giving an introduction of the petitioners as being ‘conscientious objectors’ of the program and in their opinion, it is illegitimate. Explaining their position, he pointed that ‘their bodies are theirs, and the State under this Constitution, has no dominion over the body.’ He elaborated further by stating that under Articles 14, 19, and 21, however far one may read legislative competence, the autonomy of an individual’s body cannot be taken away.

He emphasized on how an individual’s fingerprints and iris scans are their own, and due to the vast variety of rights granted under the Constitution to Indian citizens, the State cannot insist that for efficiency or expediency, the rights and bodies of individuals can be taken away. If an individual is willing to pay taxes, and be identified, they cannot be forced to part with their fingerprints. When asked about the photograph as a biometric feature, Mr. Divan responded that in a complex society such as ours, a photograph has become a legitimate source of identity.

He further dissected the Aadhaar project by pointing out that every database is susceptible to hacks, and biometrics cannot be changed, but can be easily duplicated, even from hi resolution photographs as has been proved by an incident where the German Defence Minister’s fingerprints were taken by a hacker from just a photograph. Mr. Divan, while explaining how the process of authentication can be tracked by the State, called the Aadhaar project an “electronic leash”, and laid down three major issues of surveillance, profiling, and seeding.

He continued his argument by further stating that the collection of such biometrics is undertaken by private parties, and no government official is present when such enrollment takes place. Also, per the UIDAI website, 34,000 enrollment centres have been suspended and 3.84 lakh Aahdaar cards have been canceled. While reading out the enrollment form for Aadhaar, he pointed to the first line that states that the scheme is ‘free and voluntary’ and argued that voluntary usually involves no element of coercion or mandatory nature.

Mr. Divan categorically stated that this was for mere background information on the project, and he is not raising any of these points in the petition at hand, as the matter of privacy and validity of the Aadhaar Act are pending before a larger Bench.

He continued his arguments on 27th April, 2017.

All Posts | Apr 27,2017

Supreme Court hears the Aadhaar-PAN case; updates from Day 2

The Supreme Court today continued the hearing on cases filed against linking Aadhar to PAN and making it mandatory for filing income tax returns [Binoy Viswam v. Union of India, W.P.(C) No. 247/2017 & S G Vombatkere and Anr. v. Union of India, W.P.(C) No. 277/2017 – see our coverage of arguments from day 1 here]. Mr. Shyam Divan, Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioners in the latter case, resumed his arguments from day 1, and made the following points:

  • The entire system of Aadhar is unreliable as is evident from the numerous leaks that have occurred. A letter written by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology confirms that the data, which the Government has been carefully guarding, has been leaked online. Mr. Divan read out a list of all the significant leaks that have taken place recently.
  • On 15th October, 2015, a Constitution Bench of the SC had directed the Union Government to follow all earlier interim orders issued by the SC starting September 2013. As these orders had made the use of Aadhar purely voluntary, the Aadhar Act can only create rights for citizens and not impose any duties. Converting a right into duty is colorable exercise of power.
  • The Preamble to the Constitution guarantees dignity of the individual and compelling people to part with their biometric data is a violation of their fundamental right to life as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. When there is a written Constitution that the citizens have given to themselves, the state, however powerful has limited power. This concept of limited government was recognized in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Thakur Bharat Singh. The Government is trying to change the notion of limited governance to an all pervasive one. Mr. Divan also mentioned that the Constitution of India is not a charter of servitude.
  • Right to life under Article 21 encompasses the right to protect one’s body from harm, which in turn includes the right to not part with one’s fingerprints and iris scans. Article 21 guarantees personal autonomy which was reinforced in the cases of Sunil Batra v. Delhi AdministrationNational Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, and Aruna Shanbaug v. Union of India. Further, it also incorporates the right of bodily integrity. Mr. Divan cited Salmond, Hobbes and Locke to elucidate the jurisprudential perspective on the same.
  • If the object of the statute is discriminatory, then the statute violates Article 14 of the Constitution. Before invoking the test of reasonable classification, it has to be checked if the object of the Act itself is discriminatory or not. Aadhar creates two classes of assessees – those who volunteer to part with their biometric data and those who do not.
  • A statutory provision that completely takes away the voluntary nature of Aadhar and compels expropriation of a person’s fingerprints and iris scans is per se violative of Article 21. Such coercion cannot be imposed on legitimate tax payers and assessees who are otherwise willing and pay income tax. There is no doctrine of eminent domain qua a person. Further, taking into consideration the “effect test”, Section 139AA is unworkable.
  • Lastly, in a digital world, the concept of “informational self determination” should be made a facet of Articles 21, 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

Mr. Divan is scheduled to conclude his arguments on Thursday, April 28, 2017.

All Posts | Apr 24,2017

UIDAI / Aadhaar: Breaches and Leaks

News reports of Aadhaar numbers and related information leaking have been appearing frequently since early February 2017. We are collecting information on leaks involving UIDAI / Aadhaar in order to make the data more accessible. We invite everyone to improve this data by collaborating in this effort to catalogue these breaches and leaks.

To help track these violations, please write an email to sukarn [at] sflc (dot) in or tweet to @SFLCin.

All Posts | Mar 28,2017

No Aadhaar, no service- Notifications making Aadhaar mandatory

In Aadhaar news, in the first few months of 2017, the Central Government has issued a spur of notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes that provide essentials and basic amenities. These notifications are issued under Section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act (hereinafter the Aadhaar Act), by several Union Ministries responsible for the roll out and implementation of these schemes. These new notifications have made Aadhaar mandatory for programs like mid day meals, scholarships for disabled students, availing insurance for crop failure, rehabilitation of bonded labour, and welfare scheme aimed at journalists, to name a few.

Apart from these, recently, the Department of Telecommunication issued a notification on 23rd March, 2017 that orders Aadhaar based e-KYC for re-verification of all mobile subscribers, and the amendments made to the Finance Bill, 2017 make Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns and when applying for allotment of permanent account number (PAN).

Per the notifications available on the E-Gazette as of 27th March, 2017, we have collated a list of 52 such notifications that make Aadhaar mandatory despite the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders restricting not only the use of Aadhaar, but stating its voluntary nature, and prohibiting denial of service to anyone due to the lack of an Aadhaar card.

The legal foundations of the Aadhaar scheme, and its current legal status are complicated. The Supreme Court in its orders dated 11th August, and 15th October, 2015 had restricted the voluntary usage of Aadhaar to only six government schemes, and maintained that no person would be denied access to any service due to lack of an Aadhaar card. These six government schemes were, LPG, Public Distribution System (PDS), MNREGA, Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojna, Employees’ Providend Fund, and National Social Assistance Programme. However, on the legislative side of things, the Aadhaar Act was passed in March 2016 as a money bill in the Parliament, but the Supreme Court’s orders of 2015 putting limitations on the operation of this scheme until the pending matters are decided with finality are still in effect.

The notifications by various Union Ministries issued since January, 2017 are under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act. Section 7 gives Central and State governments power to make Aadhaar or enrollment into the scheme as a condition for availing benefits of schemes that incur expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. The notifications issued by the various Ministries make Aadhaar mandatory for ‘beneficiaries’ of these schemes, which may vary from individuals receiving the entitlements under these welfare programs, or even employees’, contractual staff, Anganwadi workers getting an honorarium or remuneration while working in departments providing these services.

Majority of these notifications have a designated deadline before which “Any individual desirous of availing benefit under the [said] Scheme, who does not possess the Aadhaar number or has not yet enrolled for Aadhaar shall have to apply for Aadhaar enrolment by [a set date], provided he or she is entitled to obtain Aadhaar as per the provisions of section 3 of the said Act and such individuals may visit any Aadhaar Enrolment Centre (list available at UIDAI website (www.uidai.gov.in) for Aadhaar enrolment.” This date is an indication of a time period until which claims under these schemes can be made sans Aadhaar or its enrolment.

A consolidated list of these notifications updated till 27th March, 2017 can be found below.

[SFLC.in's resources on Aadhaar can be accessed here]

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

All Posts | Mar 17,2017

Minister of IT responds to SFLC.in’s query on violations of Supreme Court’s Aadhaar order

SFLC.in wrote to Member of Parliament, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar requesting him to raise concern regarding the repeated violations by the Central Government of Supreme Court’s orders dated 11th August, 2015, and 15th October, 2015 that make Aadhaar voluntary. Based on our letter, Mr. Chandrasekhar wrote to Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for  Information Technology, as a reply to which, Mr. Prasad said that the issue was being examined.

A copy of our letter to Mr. Chandrasekhar can be accessed here.

A copy of the reply received from Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad is reproduced below.

All Posts | Mar 10,2017

Our resources on Aadhaar

Aadhaar, the unique biometric identification project of UIDAI has been at the center of many debates since its inception. Among other things, concerns have been raised regarding privacy, and security of the sensitive biometric data of residents of the country. As a part of our digital privacy project, we have been tracking Aadhaar and its related developments, analysing the Aadhaar Act, 2016, creating time-line of the scheme, following the judicial orders, and pending litigations, along with cataloging the violations of the Supreme Court’s orders dated 11th August, and 15th October, 2015.

Following is the consolidated list of our blog posts, and opinion pieces around the Aadhaar scheme:

Our Blog Posts:

  1. Aadhaar on trial: The litigations around Aadhaar
    January 5, 2017

     

    https://sflc.in/aadhaar-on-trial-the-litigations-around-aadhaar/

  2. Summary Report: Discussion on Understanding Aadhaar through the Lens of Technology
    October 7, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/summary-report-discussion-on-understanding-aadhaar-through-the-lens-oftechnology/

  3. Discussion on ‘Understanding Aadhaar through thelens of technology and security’(Sept 5, 2016)
    September 2, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/discussion-on-understanding-aadhaar-through-the-lens-of-technology-and-securitysept-5-2016/

  4. Cataloguing violations of Supreme Court’s orderson Aadhaar
    August 17, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/cataloguing-violations-supreme-courts-orders-aadhaar

  5. Journey of Aadhaar – Graphical Illustration
    July 13, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/journey-of-aadhaar-graphical-illustration/

  6. Journey of Aadhaar
    May 21, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/journey-of-aadhaar/

  7. How Parliament Debated the Aadhaar Bill, 2016
    May 21, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/how-parliament-debated-the-aadhaar-bill-2016/

  8. Evaluating the Aadhaar Bill against the National Privacy Principles
    March 11, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/evaluating-the-aadhaar-bill-against-the-national-privacy-principles/

Our opinion pieces:

  1. ‘Putting all Aadhaar data in one big box is ill-advised’: Mishi Choudhary
    November 9, 2016

     

    https://sflc.in/putting-all-aadhaar-data-in-one-big-box-is-ill-advised-mishi-choudhary/

  2. Yahoo!: A cautionary tale
    October 19, 2016

     

    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Yahoo-A-cautionary-tale/article16074916.ece

  3. Three Privacy Principles that India Must Uphold
    March 25, 2016

     

    https://thewire.in/25843/three-privacy-principles-that-india-must-uphold/

  4. Why lack of right to privacy will hurt India’s freedom
    March 21, 2016

     

    http://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/technology/why-lack-of-right-to-privacy-will-hurt-indias-freedom/51488033

  5. Without rules, Sahibs may own your data
    March 21, 2016

     

    http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/without-rulessahibs-may-own-your-data/

  6. Aadhaar and the right to privacy
    October 20, 2015

     

    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/aadhaar-and-the-right-toprivacy/article7781020.ece

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 | 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