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Apex Court Modify its Order on Aadhaar Card; Remains Voluntary
Oct 19, 2015

Noting that the authorities cannot insist on a citizen to produce his Aadhaar Card, the Supreme Court extended the voluntary use of the card to the MGNREGA, all types of pension schemes, employee provident fund and the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana.

  • A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu said use of the Aadhaar card was purely voluntary and not mandatory.

  • With this, the Supreme Court modified an August 11 order issued by its three-judge Bench restricting Aadhaar use to only PDS and LPG (cooking gas) distribution.

  • The purely voluntary nature of the use of Aadhaar card to access public service will continue till the court takes a final decision on whether the Aadhaar scheme is an invasion on the right to privacy of the citizen.

  • Chief Justice had specifically asked Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for UIDAI, to make a statement in open court that “you will not insist till the matter is finally decided here or a legislation is introduced in Parliament”.

  • A Constitution Bench, however, clarified that linking of Aadhaar for providing these services will only be on voluntary basis and no person shall be deprived of any benefit for want of Aadhaar.

  • The Bench modified the August 11 order of a three-judge bench, which at the time of referring the matter to a larger bench, had said Aadhaar can be used only for distribution of food grains, kerosene oil and for LPG subsidy.

Chief Justice had set up a five-member Bench headed by him to go into the constitutional validity and usage of Aadhaar. The other members of the Bench were: Justices M.Y. Eqbal, C. Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy.

On August 11, a 3-member Bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar passed an interim order restricting the use of Aadhaar for providing subsidy on foodgrains and kerosene sold through the public distribution system (PDS) and on cooking gas (LPG). This Bench subsequently rejected pleas for enlarging the scope of Aadhaar, observing that it was not in a position to entertain pleas for relaxing the curbs as it had already referred the PILs to a larger Bench for deciding the card’s on the basis of right to privacy.

Aadhaar, a unique identification number, is used by the government to transfer subsidy directly to the bank account of beneficiaries. The use of Aadhaar helps in checking pilferage. 


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