New Delhi: Following the Supreme Court upholding the Aadhaar as constitutionally valid, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday welcomed the top court verdict terming it a “historic order” and saying that the entire concept of Aadhaar has been accepted after a judicial review. Jaitley said it has helped the government in saving Rs 90,000 crore every year with targeted delivery of government schemes.Also Read - Dhanbad Judge's Murder: Supreme Court Takes Suo Motu Cognisance, Seeks Report From Jharkhand Within A Week
Attacking the Congress for opposing the Aadhaar Act, Jaitley said that they those criticising the scheme should understand that they cannot defy technology. Also Read - Pegasus Snooping Row: Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Plea Next Week
“Everyone who has been criticising Aadhaar should understand that they cannot defy technology. Mainstream should accept changes, one can understand the fringe being against,” he said while addressing the media after cabinet meeting. Also Read - Odisha Board Class 12 Results: CHSE Requests 2 Weeks Extension in Deadline. Deets Inside
“Congress cuts a very sorry figure here, they introduced the idea but they did not know what to do with it,” he added.
“There are now 122 crore people in India who have Aadhaar cards and our estimation is that by identifying beneficiaries of government schemes and ensuring that there are no fake or duplicate or non-existent beneficiaries, we are already saving Rs 90,000 crore every year,” Jaitley said.
Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the SC verdict a “victory of good governance“, adding that the biometric ID is not a “surveillance tool”.
“Supreme Court’s verdict on Aadhaar is a victory of good governance, empowerment of ordinary people and efficient delivery of public services to people of India,” Prasad said.
“Supreme Court has held that the purpose of Aadhaar is legitimate and in state interest. It is not a surveillance tool,” he added.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court declared the Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that while Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN), it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and the telecom service providers cannot seek its linking for mobile connections.
It would not be mandatory for school admissions, as also for the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission.
The bench also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
For the exclusion of a “minimal” three per cent, 97 per cent cannot be denied the benefits of Aadhaar, the top court said in a majority judgement, commenting: “One can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
The BJP welcomed the judgement on Aadhaar as a big victory for the “pro-poor Modi government”, saying the apex court has upheld the constitutional validity of the scheme and asserted that it does not violate privacy.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also hit back at the Congress after it projected the verdict as a slap on the face of the ruling party, saying the order has in fact exposed the opposition party.
The Congress favoured middlemen while the Modi government brought Aadhaar to ensure that benefits are given directly to people, he said.
That is why, Patra added, the Congress had moved the apex court against it. The court has ruled that Aadhaar is safe, he said.