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Apex Court Allows Linking Aadhaar with PDS & LPG Subsidies
Aug 13, 2015

Constitutional Bench to Hear Privacy Issue

The Supreme Court allowed the use of Aadhaar identities for Public Distribution System beneficiaries and cooking gas users but withheld permission for linking the biometric identification scheme to other social welfare programmes. A bench of Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and C. Nagappan said, no one would be denied benefits under social welfare schemes for want of the 11-digit unique identification number, but we permitted the government to link PDS and LPG subsidies to the Aadhaar card to check possible pilferage.

  • Though the order can be seen as a partial validation of Aadhaar, its status as the principal identity number remains far from settled as the bench said the number could not be made mandatory for other purposes. 

  • The bench asked the government to make citizens aware about the non-mandatory nature of the unique identification number (UID).

  • The court was informed by the petitioner that many government agencies including RBI and Election Commission were making Aadhaar cards mandatory identification for banking and voting purposes.

  • The three-judge bench also referred the petitions challenging the validity of making Aadhaar card mandatory to a five-judge constitution bench along with the question whether it violated right to privacy of a citizen. 

  • The court also added a critical question—whether right to privacy was part of citizen's fundamental right to life.

  • The bench also directed the government not to share information collected by Unique Identification Authority of India with anybody or any authority except on the direction of the court for the purpose of criminal investigation.

  • It asked the Centre to make people aware through public advertisements that Aadhaar card was not mandatory

  • The bench turned down the plea of civil rights activists, challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, to restrain the government from fresh enrolments for the card.

  • Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had told the bench it would be a retrograde step if Aadhaar scheme was stopped. 

  • He had said the government had made huge investments and around 90% of the population was covered. 

  • He said the idea behind Aadhaar was to empower people and not to snoop on them.


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