Cant make Aadhaar must for utilities, SC tells govt

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 24 2013, 10:37am hrs
In a setback to the UPA government, the Supreme Court on Monday said the Aadhaar cards being prepared by the Unique Identification Authority (UIDAI) are not mandatory for services such as disbursal of salaries, provident fund and LPG cylinders.

While asking the Centre not to issue Aadhaar cards to illegal immigrants, a bench headed by Justice BS Chauhan said that the Centre and state governments must not insist on Aadhaar cards and no benefit or essential services shall be denied on account of non-possession of the card.

Besides, the apex court directed the central and the state governments not to issue the cards to illegal immigrants. It noted solicitor general Mohan Parasaran's stand that for an Aadhaar card, consent of an individual was indispensable and hence it was a voluntary project, with an objective to promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof.

The bench also decided to hear the matter at length and posted it for final hearing.

The effect of the directions is that these cards cannot be the sole proof for the government's various schemes. Aadhaar is one of the main schemes of the UPA government and is headed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani.

The directions came on a PIL filed by Justice KS Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka high court, seeking the top court to examine the voluntary nature of the Aadhaar cards.

Senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for the former judge, raised doubts over the collection of personal data by the government and argued that it not only violated the citizen's fundamental right to privacy but was also an executive act in overreach of Parliament, which is yet to grant statutory powers to Aadhaar.