The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass any interim order against the Centre’s June 22 notification making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes. The apex court’s latest move will enhance the confidence of the Centre, which is keen to use Aadhaar for governance and targeted delivery of assorted doles and services. Referring to its June 9 order that upheld the validity of the income tax Act provision, making Aadhaar mandatory to apply for PAN cards and file tax returns, a vacation bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha observed that no interim order could be passed at this stage on the “mere apprehension” of petitioners that the government might deprive people of availing benefits of various social welfare schemes due to lack of Aadhaar.
On its part, the Centre assured the court that no citizen will be deprived of benefits under its various social welfare schemes due to lack of Aadhaar card/number till September 30. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta said the government has extended the deadline for enrolment of the unique identity card from June 30 to September 30 for availing benefits under various social welfare schemes, including mid-day meals, subsidies for LPG etc.
“No mandamus can be issued merely on apprehension which may be correct or not correct,” the apex court said, asking petitioner Shanta Sinha to “show the proof of children being deprived of mid-day meals without Aadhaar cards”. It also posted the matter for further hearing on July 7.
On June 9, even as the court upheld Parliament’s legislative competence to enact the relevant Section 139AA of the I-T Act — which was inserted through the Finance Act, 2017 — it allowed those who do not have the unique ID to file their income tax returns till the larger issue of right to privacy and concerns that the Aadhaar scheme affected the human dignity are decided by a Constitution bench.
The government also recently notified that Aadhaar would be needed for financial transactions above Rs 50,000. Under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the unique identity number is also mandatory to receive social welfare benefits. Earlier, the Supreme Court had passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their welfare schemes.