The Government of India has linked the 12- digit unique identification number, i.e. Aadhaar to various centrally sponsored schemes including Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (provision of free LPG connection to below poverty line people), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (universal access to banking facilities), Janani Suraksha Yojana (promotion of institutional delivery among poor pregnant women), etc.
A number of petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court questioning the move of the Government to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of social welfare schemes. They have challenged the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Scheme and have alleged that parting of Aadhaar and biometric details of citizens to access welfare and benefits would violate their fundamental right to privacy as it may probably result in data breaches, etc.
In two of the Supreme Court’s earlier decisions in M. P. Sharma and Others vs. Satish Chandra 1954 (eight-Judge Bench) and Kharak Singh vs. the State of U. P. & Others 1963 (six- Judge Bench), it has held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right.
This Court has also recently upheld the validity of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 which provides for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with permanent account number (PAN) by income tax assessees as it is the only robust method of de-duplication of PAN database and it may ensure that one person does not have more than one PAN card or a person is not able to get PAN cards in assumed/fictitious names.
Therefore, the Supreme Court has decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide and settle the issue about whether right to privacy can be declared as a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.