The Aadhaar scheme was approved by experts and was not open to judicial review as it was a policy decision, the Union government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
In a digital era, Aadhaar is the best way to prevent money laundering and deliver subsidies and benefits, the government told the apex court bench which is examining the validity of the scheme. The five-judge bench comprising justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan is headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
"The policy decisions of the government approved by experts are not subject to judicial review," Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench. He said that development would slow down if there was judicial review of every state action and "courts should not interfere in matters of technical expertise".
On the issue of violation of the doctrine of proportionality, Venugopal said that Aadhaar scheme satisfies the test of proportionality by showing a rational nexus between the means and the goal. All subsidies were part of right to life with dignity and would prevail over the right to privacy, he said, adding the state has a legitimate state interest in rolling out Aadhaar.
Referring to the issue of 16-digit virtual Aadhaar ID, Venugopal said that it is an excellent safety measure. The bench then asked whether it was the onus on the individual to generate and get a virtual ID. As Venugopal replied in affirmative, the bench asked as to whether 1.2 billion citizens can do it and said the Aadhaar may pass the test of "legitimate State interest", but the doctrine of proportionality has to be satisfied.
The bench also said that "biological attributes" are open ended and the authorities may expand and include some more biometric features in the Aadhaar scheme in the future and asked whether it would not amount to "excessive delegation of powers" by Parliament.
According to Venugopal, blood, urine and DNA may be added, but that will be subject to examination by the courts, just like right now the court is examining whether collection of fingerprints and Iris scans are a violation of privacy.
Making a strong point, the bench said the power of UIDAI to decide what is 'biological attributes" and the method of collecting it has to meet the test of proportionality.
According to the Union government, the Aadhaar Act was a "fair and reasonable law" which complied with the tests prescribed by the historic verdict on the right to privacy.
The SC had refused to pass an interim order extending the deadline of March 31 for linking of Aadhaar with the welfare schemes where benefits are transferred to citizens from the Consolidated Fund of India.
The bench is hearing on clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law.
(With inputs from PTI)