The Supreme Court’s direction comes at a time when the Modi government appears to be have a re-think on the Aadhaar card scheme. (Reuters)
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Narendra Modi government to clear its stand on whether it intends to continue with the UPA government’s plan to allow Aadhar as proof of identity for direct transfer of cash for social welfare schemes.
Amid a fresh PIL challenging the notification that allowed setting up the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on the ground that biometric data would impinge one’s privacy, a bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu sought the clarification from Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar. “We have read it in the newspapers that there is some rethinking on the scheme. You have to tell us by Friday next,” the bench said.
Though Kumar told the court Aadhaar wasn’t mandatory for availing benefits under welfare schemes, including disbursal of salaries and provident fund, school and college admissions, marriage registration, LPG cylinders and connections among other public services, he still sought time till February 13.
The court’s direction comes at a time when the Modi government appears to be have a re-think on the Aadhaar card scheme. The BJP in opposition had criticised the scheme.
Though a batch of petitions challenging the UPA’s notification to establish UIDAI is pending before the SC, the Modi dispensation has so far not taken any stand before the court.
The SC had earlier on September 23, 2013, restrained the authorities from making the Aadhaar card mandatory for extending benefits.
The fresh PIL filed by Bangalore resident Mathew Thomas alleged that collection of data was being carried out by certain foreign companies with alleged dubious credentials.
Senior counsel Gopal Subramanium told the bench that despite the specific injunction against the government, the authorities continued to make the Aadhaar card mandatory for people. The PIL sought quashing of the gazette notification of January 28, 2009, by the Planning Commission on the matter. It also wanted a direction to UIDAI to destroy all the information collected pursuant to the notification.