October,15,2015:Aadhaar can now be used for MGNREGA, all types of pension schemes, the Jan Dhan Yojana and the EPF. Noting that authorities cannot insist a citizen to produce his Aadhar card, the Supreme Court on Thursday extended the voluntary use of Aadhaar to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA), all types of pensions schemes, employee provident fund and the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana.
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu said the use of Aadhar card is purely voluntary and not mandatory. With this, the Supreme Court modified an August 11, 2015 order issued by its three-judge Bench restricting Aadhaar use to only PDS and LPG (cooking gas) distribution.
The Bench said the purely voluntary nature of the use of Aadhaar to access public service will continue till the court takes a final decision on whether Aadhar scheme is an invasion into the right to privacy of the citizen.
The interim order came after senior advocates Shytam Diwan and Gopal Subramanium said the Aadhaar scheme is neither backed by law nor administrative decree.
“You have no document of authority, either from the parliament or administrative decision, to collect fingerprints of the citizenry,” Mr. Diwan argued.
“Give me 15 minutes. Your Lordships will be aghast and never share your biometrics or opt for Aadhar,” Mr. Subramanium urged the bench also comprising Justices M.Y. Iqbal, C.S. Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy.
However, repeated statements separately drawn by the court on Wednesday from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and various authorities, including the RBI, SEBI, TRAI, to name some who sought modification of the August 11 order, that Aadhar would be used “purely voluntarily” and not mandatorily won the day.
Chief Justice Dattu had specifically asked Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, for UIDAI, to make a statement in open court that “you will not insist till the matter is finally decided here or a legislation is introduced in the parliament”.
“Suppose we decide that Aadhar is purely voluntary and any attempt to make it mandatory would be treated as contempt of court… are you ready to give an assurance or make a statement here to this effect?” the CJI had asked Mr. Rohatgi, who replied in the affirmative on Wednesday.
"No person will be denied benefits under any government scheme for want of Aadhaar card," the A-G submitted.
The government had argued that since the Supreme Court had allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar for PDS and LPG, there was no rationale for not extending it to other schemes.
The Centre also said the Aadhaar was an easy method for identification of individuals eligible for benefits under the schemes though citizens not possessing the UID number could produce other identity documents to avail similar benefits.
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