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Aadhaar will overcome test of constitutionality, says Jaitley

NEW DELHI

Federal Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said he was sure Aadhaar will stand the test of constitutionality as the Supreme Court’s decision on the legislation is still pending.

“The legislation has been passed and I’m sure it will stand the test of constitutionality. Even while upholding the idea of privacy as an important constitutional guarantee, the Supreme Court said that it is the question raised just now. (Violation of privacy) could be imposed by law but they have to be obviously reasonable,” Jaitley said at the conclave on financial inclusion organised by the United Nations India.

He said that the right to privacy has illustrative restraints like national security and dissemination of social benefits and Aadhaar is being used for the latter.

“As some of the illustrative restraints, not exhaustive, are in the larger interest of national security or for the purposes of dissemination of social benefits,” he said. That is the principle purpose of which this (Aadhaar) was intended to be used and that is where the interplay of over a billion Aadhaar number, over a billion bank accounts and mobile phones itself has a important role,” the finance minister said.

Jaitley said that once the identity network is created through Aadhaar, it is used to make sure the social benefits reach those segments of population for whom it is specifically targeted.

“Untargeted subsidy results in wastage of resources because the resource of state are limited,” he said.

The case is pending in the Supreme Court on whether the government’s move to make Aadhaar-linking mandatory with PAN, is violative of the fundamental right to privacy.

Meanwhile, the cost of digital transactions could be reduced to almost zero if payments were made through Aadhaar, National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.

“Mobile telephony with Aadhaar, when it is linked with bank account… Aadhaar to Aadhaar transactions, like with BHIM app, the cost of transaction is zero,” Kant said during a panel discussion at a conclave on financial inclusion organised here by the United Nations India chapter.

Aadhaar payment could reduce the transaction cost greatly compared with card payments, the Niti Aayog official said.

Transaction cost on payments made by credit cards stand at 3.5 per cent while payments through debit cards attract 1.25-1.50 per cent transaction charges.

Indo-Asian News Service