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M Sagar Kumar, TNN | Nov 22, 2013, 02.48 AM IST
HYDERABAD: The AP High Court on Thursday directed the authorities not to insist on the possession of Aadhaar card to the supply of LPG cylinder. The division bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sengupta and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar made this order while dealing with a petition filed by TSR Sarma of Saroornagar in Hyderabad who challenged the whole process of the issue of Aadhaar card with reference to collecting finger prints of individuals etc. The petitioner also questioned the action of the oil ministry officials who made it mandatory for LPG consumers to link their gas connection and Aadhaar numbers compulsorily for availing the gas subsidy.
When this matter came up for hearing on Thursday, assistant solicitor general Ponnam Ashok Goud representing the Centre told the court that the Union government has not issued any notification so far, making it mandatory for people to produce Aadhaar cards for availing subsidy on LPG cylinder. The bench then recorded the statement of the central counsel and directed the Centre not to insist on consumers producing Aadhaar cards to avail LPG cylinder and subsidy.
At present, LPG dealers in the state are collecting Rs 1050 per cylinder (the price of the full cylinder without the subsidy) from consumers with the assurance that the subsidy of about Rs 570 will be credited into the bank accounts of the consumers if their Aadhaar card, gas consumer number and bank account are enrolled and linked.
However, according to legal analysts, Thursday’s order of the AP High Court directing the authorities not to insist on production of Aadhaar card for supplying LPG cylinder will provide little relief to consumers. According to them, the gas dealers and oil companies will not be affected as they can continue to charge the full price from consumers, but the latter will be hit as they will be deprived of their subsidy reimbursement.
The petitioner also took objection to the authorities resorting to finger printing the citizens in order to supply Aadhaar card. The Centre’s action in collecting personal data of individuals like finger prints etc is nothing but invading the privacy of individuals, senior counsel Challa Seetharamaiah told the court. When the bench asked the Central counsel to show them which Act is empowering them to collect personal data of individuals, the Centre’s reply was evasive. Its counsel only said that the petitioner has to make the Planning Commission a party to the current litigation and there is no point in blaming the oil ministry alone for the current fiasco.
Seetharamaiah told the court that even under the provisions of the Evidence Act, the authorities cannot collect fingerprints of individuals including suspects in anticipation of a crime. But here is a case where the whole populace of the country are being made to give their fingerprints, iris details etc. This is nothing but invasion of people’s privacy which is unlawful, he said.


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