Bengaluru: Asserting that Aadhaar is a unique identity project, its pioneer and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani on Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court judgement on it as a landmark.
“This is a landmark judgement in favour of Aadhaar, which is a unique identity project that is critical to the development goals of the nation,” Nilekani tweeted hours after a five-judge constitutional bench of the apex court delivered a verdict in its favour.
Nilekani resigned from the city-based global software major to join the state-run Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in 2009 and spearheaded its ambitious project and was its first Chairman till March 2014.
Noting that the Aadhaar Act 2016 had undergone the ultimate scrutiny in the highest court, Nilekani said a lot of recommendations were incorporated in the central government’s flagship scheme.
“Through the democratic process of discussion and debate, we have created a better and stronger Aadhaar together,” Nilekani said.
Nilekani said the top court had unequivocally validated the founding principles for Aadhaar.
“Aadhaar includes, it doesn’t exclude. The resident was once again recognised as being at the heart of the project, and they have gained new rights that help them assert their ownership over their data,” he said.
Nilekani, who is currently in the US, said Aadhaar had gone through 10 years of feedback and would do so in the future as well.
“I have to study the fine print of the verdict for the provisions that have been struck down,” Nilekani told an Indian news channel.
Hoping that the data protection law would be passed soon by Parliament, the technocrat said it would not be an issue if using Aadhaar was a voluntary decision.
Nilekani, however, quit the UIDAI executive post to contest in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the Bengaluru South constituency on a Congress ticket but lost to BJP’s five-time member and Union Minister Ananth Kumar.
Nilekani re-joined the $10.9-billion IT outsourcing firm in August 2017 as Chairman after the company re-constituted its board.
Earlier, retired Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, one of the first to question the legality of Aadhaar, also welcomed the judgement upholding its validity but restricting it to disbursement of social benefits.
“After holistic consideration, my opinion is that the majority judgement on the validity of the Aadhaar Act is correct though I have not read it (verdict) yet,” the 92-year-old retired Karnataka High Court judge told the media here.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that Aadhaar would be voluntary and not mandatory with an option to exit.
On linking of Aadhaar with Permanent Account Number (PAN) mandatory, the retired judge said those who pay income tax are limited and they belong to a separate class.