Government of India Ministry of Defence (MoD) Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare (DESW) issued an Extraordinary Gazette Notification No.S.O-747(E) dated March 3, 2017, published in the Gazette of India dated March 6, 2017, concerning military pensions, in which it stated that, “An individual eligible to receive the pension benefits is hereby required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication”. It notified the last date for doing so as 30 June 2017.
Major General S.G.Vombatkere, a military pensioner, challenged the Notification by filing Writ Petition No.18444/2017 in the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, making the Union of India (Secretary, MoD); Union of India (Jt Secretary, DESW); Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Allahabad; and Canara Bank (Manager, Jayalakshmipuram Branch, Mysuru) as Respondents. The Petitioner, Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, was represented by Advocate Sri Clifton D’Rozario.
The Petitioner’s argument before the Hon’ble Court was that the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 11.08.2015 as modified by the Order of the Constitution Bench dated 15.10.2015, emphatically mandates that the Aadhaar number will not be used by the Respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme, LPG Distribution Scheme, MGNREGS, National Social Assistance Programme (Old Age Pensions, Widow Pensions, Disability Pensions), Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), and that it would be voluntary. It was further argued that even the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, does not make Aadhaar compulsory, and mandates that persons without Aadhaar shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.
The Petitioner prayed the Hon’ble Court to quash Gazette of India Notification S.O 747(E) dated March 3, 2017, and direct the Respondents to issue military pension to him without insisting on his possessing an Aadhaar number or showing proof of having applied for Aadhaar number. In the interim, the Petitioner prayed the Hon’ble Court to stay the operation of the impugned Notification S.O 747(E).
Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.S.Bopanna who heard the case, while issuing notice to the Respondents, was pleased to pass an Interim Order on April 27, 2017, directing the Respondents “not to insist upon Aadhaar card or proof of application for issue of Aadhaar card for the purpose of disbursing military pension to the Petitioner if he is otherwise entitled to receive such pension, pending consideration of this Petition”.