SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court has quashed a government order that made Aadhar card mandatory for government employees to draw various entitlements, including salary.
Disposing of a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said that the government’s order (No 35 of 2016) on February 10 was in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“From the perusal of the Supreme Court order dated 15-10-2015, it is evident that matter was referred to the Constitution Bench for final hearing, making it clear that Aadhaar card scheme is voluntary and cannot be made mandatory till the matter is decided by the Supreme Court in one way or the other,” the high court said.
The HC asked the government to “strictly” follow the apex court’s interim orders given on March 29, 2013.
“It is beyond doubt that the government order issued cannot be sustained as it is in violation of the interim orders passed by the Supreme Court,” the division bench said and quashed the order (No. 35-F of 2016 dated 10-2-2016) with a liberty to the government to issue a fresh order in compliance with the interim orders passed by the apex court relating to foods grains, cooking fuel such as kerosene, and for the purpose of the LPG distribution scheme.
On February 25 this year, the High Court had stayed the government order and issued notice, calling for a response by the state government to the PIL filed by Advocates Syed Musaib and Gulbaddin Ahmad Mir.
Following the notice, the Advocate General appeared before the bench and failed to dispute the petitioners’ claim against the government order.
The state government had issued the order asking its employees, pensioners and others to register themselves in the Aadhar system to draw legal entitlements including salary and other benefits.
Advocate Musaib, one of the petitioners, had also contended that there was only 46.9% Aadhar enrollment in the state, the lowest in India.
He said the government order suffers from infirmity with respect to the Constitution as people in the state are forced to disclose private information under the cloak of the Aadhar scheme. Accordingly, he had sought directions from the High Court to quash the order and direct the administration to not make possession of the Adhaar card mandatory for any benefits that are due to a citizen.