The Supreme Court on Monday said the government cannot make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of welfare schemes.
An apex court bench said the earlier interim order had not been violated since Aadhaar is not mandatory for getting various social welfare schemes.
However, it refused to give any date on the issue of making Aadhaar mandatory, saying that it would hear the matter in due course of time. The apex court also refused to give an early hearing into the Aadhaar case.
According to an alert by PTI, a seven-judge bench will be set up to hear the pleas challenging Aadhaar but the SC said, “right now it is not possible”.
The court had earlier restricted the use of Aadhaar cards to public distribution system and LPG subsidies, after which the government rushed to the court for a permission to use it for more services.
The apex court maintained that the government cannot be stopped from using Aadhaar in other schemes like opening bank accounts.
There was widespread panic about the government making Aadhaar card mandatory for various things, excluding even welfare schemes for which, it had acquired an interim order. In the recent Finance Bill that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced as a money bill in the Lok Sabha, made Aadhaar card mandatory for filling income tax returns. Apart from that the government has also made it mandatory to have the 12-digit number to get a drivers’ licence or continue having a mobile connection. The Department of Telecommunications has recently written to all the telcos asking to conduct a reverification of all its subscribers with the Aadhaar card number. Failing which, those whose numbers are not verified through Aadhaar, will be disconnected after the February 6, 2017 deadline.
While the government is making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes and functions, there is severe doubt about the government’s capability to keep this data safe. Recently, a Twitter user had pointed out that a ministry had allegedly kept the personal details of thousands of individuals – including name, address, caste, bank accounts, aadhaar no, pan card numbers – in excel sheets that were accessible by the public through a simple Google search.
With ANI and PTI