Constitutional bench set to hear plea on Aadhaar

RSTV Bureau

supreme_courtThe issue pertaining to the utility of UID or Aadhaar number for availing benefits of government schemes will be heard by the larger bench of the Supreme Court. Central government has moved apex court seeking modification of its interim order where the court had said that Aadhaar will remain optional for availing welfare schemes of the government and the authorities will not use it for the purposes other than PDS and LPG distribution system. Chief Justice HL Dattu is all set to announce the composition of larger bench on Friday.

The Central government through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi pleaded for an early hearing on Thursday after the three-judge bench had on Wednesday refused to modify the order, citing the issue of modifying the interim order will be heard by the Constitutional bench.

“All social benefit schemes of the government are being affected. We seek the modification that the Aadhaar be allowed to be used voluntarily for the benefit of the poor and aged groups,” Attorney General said pitching the importance of Aadhaar in schemes like MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.

The bench of Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde and C Nagappan had on Wednesday refused to modify the interim order after the BJP-led Central government had moved in a plea seeking the orders to allow the bodies like RBI and SEBI and some states to permit voluntary use of Aadhaar card for welfare schemes other than the public distribution system (PDS) and LPG schemes.

“We are of the opinion that it is better that these applications for modification are also heard by a larger bench,” the three-judge bench had said after opining that all petitions seeking modification, clarification and relaxation of its August 11 interim order will be heard by a Constitution Bench.

The Supreme Court had on August 11 ruled that Aadhaar will not be mandatory for availing the benefits of government’s welfare schemes except for the PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution.

In its interim order on the plea raising questions over the collection of biometric data, a mandatory practise to get enrolled under the scheme, the top court had strictly barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data.

“No personal information of Aadhaar card shall be shared by any authority,” the three-judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameshwar had ruled on August 11 taking on record Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s affirmation to this effect.

The Centre, RBI, SEBI, IRDA, TRAI, Pension Fund Regulatory Authority and state governments of Gujarat and Jharkhand recently moved the Supreme Court pitching strongly for voluntary use of Aadhaar for providing benefits of various schemes, other than PDS and LPG.

(With inputs from the PTI)