SC extends Aadhaar usage beyond PDS and LPG

RSTV Bureau

supreme_courtIn a big relief to the Union government, Supreme Court extended the use of Aadhaar or UIDAI issued number for the social welfare schemes like MGNREGA, all types of pension schemes, PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana and EPF. With this, the apex court modified its original interim order where it had ruled that the Aadhaar card could only be used for availing benefits and subsidies under the PDS and LPG distribution system. The Central government has moved apex court seeking modification of its interim order so that it could be used for more government schemes.

At the same time, Supreme Court on Thursday strictly reiteratred that the “Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and not mandatory till matter is decided by this court.”

The Supreme Court has set up a Constitutional bench to hear the matter raising questions on the overall utility of the Aadhaar Card and also flagging serious privacy issues as the card mandates collection of biometric data to get the person registered for its usage.

In its previous hearing, the Central government through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi pleaded for the modification of interim order.

“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 had said pitching the importance of Aadhaar in schemes like MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.

The then bench of Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde and C Nagappan had refused to modify the interim order referring it to the Constitutional bench.

The Supreme Court had on August 11 ordered that Aadhaar card will not be mandatory for availing the benefits of government’s welfare schemes except for the PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution. Also, in the same order, 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 had 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)