New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought clarifications from the government on the Aadhaar applications so that it can consider allowing the use of unique identity card on a voluntary basis.
The Aadhaar case has moved to a bigger Constitutional Bench given the complexity and gravity of the matter especially at a time when the government is considering Aadhaar-linking of all social schemes.
Last week, the government sought early hearing of the Aadhaar case by the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench while putting up a strong case for getting an early hearing as there was an ardent need to link
Aadhaar to roll out an array of social schemes. All social benefit
schemes for crores of people have come to a halt due to no interim order on Aadhaar.
The apex court has already referred all cases related to the unique ID card to the larger bench after rejecting a plea for an interim relief.
The apex court had in its interim order permitted the government to link Aadhaar for availing subsidy only for LPG and PDS schemes but reiterated that Aadhaar will not be made mandatory for availing government services.
On September 29, the Reserve Bank of India, the Securities and
Exchange Board of India and the Unique Identification Authority of India have approached the Supreme Court of India seeking a modification of its earlier order that had given the Government the liberty to link Aadhaar cards on a voluntary basis for availing subsidy under LPG and public distribution schemes.
Legal experts including senior advocate Harish Salve feels it was
worrisome for the government to roll out social schemes in absence of Aadhaar, which has a huge data base second only to China. The government cannot initiate a new parallel system to Aadhaar, experts pointed out.
Last month, RBI asked the Supreme Court to permit them to link Aadhaar cards for availing banking services and identification of citizens on voluntary basis. SEBI has sought a clarification from the apex court urging it to let the regulator link Aadhaar numbers for services in securities markets and for compliance of KYC norms.
The UIDAI told the Supreme Court in its application that the
restriction on use of Aadhaar cards seems to undermine the
government’s ambitious Digital India initiative. UIDAI is seeking
clearance to include Aadhaar’s use for schemes like biometric
attendance system, digital certificates and pension payments among others.
Petitioners including Justice Puttaswamy, who challenged the validity of Aadhaar cards, said they are determined to oppose these appeals filed by the government and different institutions terming this move as an indirect way to force citizens to get their Aadhaar cards in place.
The bench hearing these appeals is also looking into allegations of breach of individual’s privacy by the government in absence of oversight and possible misuse of information.