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Nandan Nilekani says SC judgment on Aadhaar landmark, bats for data protection and privacy law

Updated : September 26, 2018 08:04 PM IST

Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and non-executive chairman of tech giant Infosys and former head of the Aadhaar project (UIDAI), on Wednesday termed the Supreme Court ruling on Aadhaar as a landmark judgement.

Known as the architect of Aadhaar, Nilekani, said the apex court ruling has upheld the founding vision and idealism of the Aadhaar project.

Also read: Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani hails historic Supreme Court judgement

"What is really good is that apart from upholding the constitutionality of the act, the Supreme Court has also upheld and validated the founding principles of Aadhaar which is that it is a project for development, it is a project for inclusion, it allows millions of people who have been left out to become part of society," Nilekani said.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Nilekani said he is very pleased with the outcome, "I don't think there has been any other project in India which has had this level of scrutiny and so on. I think what we have at the end of it is a stronger and better Aadhaar."

"We have had a healthy discussion and debate over a decade on Aadhaar since I joined the government in July 2009. So, it has undergone a huge scrutiny, it has been looked at from all sides," he said.

Talking on data protection laws, he said, "I completely support and endorse the suggestion that we need to have data protection and privacy law as soon as possible. I was the first person to raise the need for such a law in May 2010, when I wrote to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."

"So, I have been arguing for more than 8 years that we need a law. I think the Justice Srikrishna committee has done a wonderful job in framing the law. I am all for passing it as soon as possible but I am not the person to do that," said the celebrated technocrat.

On section 57, Nilekani said, "Any application of Aadhaar, which is going to provide conveniences to a billion people, I think they will happen in some form or the other."

"There is too much that I don't know about the judgement, but the fact of the matter is everyone knows that this is an inclusion project and the court has upheld that. If a billion people can open a bank account within 2 minutes with Aadhaar e-KYC, I think people will realise the value of that and find an appropriate solution within the law," he added.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that Aadhaar is constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions, including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phone connections and school admissions.

The Supreme Court judgement kept the provision of Aadhaar mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN).

The top court said Aadhaar is serving a bigger public interest. Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than be the best, it said.

It has also struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which allows not only the State but also any "body, corporate or person" or private entity to demand an Aadhaar.

The majority verdict by the Chief Justice and Justices A K Sikri and A M Khanwilkar declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions.

Read all the latest updates on Aadhaar verdict here
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