The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the insistence by some state governments on making Aadhaar cards mandatory to extend social welfare schemes to citizens, despite it restraining the authorities from doing so until the constitutional validity of the unique identification scheme is decided by it.
At the outset of the hearing, a bench headed by justice J Chelameswar pointed to its earlier order that asked the Centre, the state governments and their agencies not to link the disbursal of benefits under various social welfare schemes with Aadhar card.
“Notwithstanding the earlier interim order some of the states are still insisting on Aadhar card. We are concerned. We had made it clear that not to insist on Aadhar card for any official work,” justice Chelameswar observed.
Attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi told the judges that the Centre had clearly informed its own officers not to insist on Aadhar cards, but if states are doing it, he would verify and write to them.
Asking the apex court to set up a Constitution bench to decide the validity of the Aadhar scheme, the Centre argued that there is no point in rolling back the scheme which was integral to the government’s efforts to eradicate poverty.
Rohatgi told the bench that it was difficult to roll back the Aadhar scheme as the central government has already spent R5,000 crore on several welfare programmes, and subsidy schemes are linked to it and it was too late to scrap it.
Stating that about 80 crore people in the country have already been covered under the Aadhar programme, Rohatgi said that the scrapping of the scheme would adversely affect the government’s efforts to eradicate poverty.