Legal Confusion Over Aadhaar Continues– Supreme Court Reiterates That Aadhaar Card Is Not Mandatory
Government’s has received another setback in its attempts to make Aadhaar Card as mandatory requirement for availing various public welfare schemes and accessing services such as rail tickets and registration of businesses.
In a recent ruling, Supreme Court has restated that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any accessing public scheme or Govt. services. As per the verdict, Supreme Court has reinforced the previous judgement of October, 2015, wherein the apex court had stopped Govt. from universalizing Aadhaar Card for every public welfare scheme and accessing Govt. services.
This means that the judiciary and the Govt. of India are at clash here on the validity of Aadhaar Card, and such legal uncertainty can confuse citizens.
Supreme Court Stops Aadhaar Expansion
The recent case was pertaining to the Govt’s decision to make Aadhaar Card as a mandatory requirement for receiving students’ scholarship. This decision was challenged in the Supreme Court.
While giving their verdict, the bench decided to uphold the October, 2015 and stopped Govt. from making Aadhaar Card as a necessary requirement for availing the scholarship.
As per the 2-member bench, until and unless all previous litigations pertaining to Aadhaar Card usage has been cleared, Govt. cannot overrule Supreme Court’s decision and impose Aadhaar Card on citizens.
But Govt. Already Has A Legal Backing Via Aadhaar Bill
Now, the confusion lies here. In the month of March, Govt. used smart political tactics, and passed the Aadhaar Act, 2016 (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services); which was notified by UIDAI and implemented effective September 12, 2016.
Under this legal backing, Govt. passed all resolutions which made Aadhaar card as a mandatory requirement for accessing various public welfare schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Jan Dhan Yojana, different types of pension schemes, transfer of cooking gas subsidy, the employees provident fund, public distribution and more.
Recently, Hyderabad Police made Aadhaar Card mandatory while vehicle checks.
Govt. has also asked all smartphone makers to mandatorily enable Aadhaar based encryption of data, which has caused some unrest among hardware makers and software platform owners.
A senior official has tried to explain that Aadhaar Card would be like the ration card: if anyone wants to have subsidized ration, then he or she must have ration card. Although the Govt. is not officially using the word ‘mandatory’, but without it, things won’t happen.
He said, “Under the new law and the regulations, we do not use the word ‘mandatory’. The regulations require authorities to ask for Aadhaar against the schemes and if someone does not have it, the agency or authority is required to ensure the person gets enrolled. Till the time he or she enrolls, the person will not be denied the benefits,”
As of now, there exists 9 pending cases in the Supreme Court, which deals with the ‘compulsory’ usage of Aadhaar Card for accessing Govt. services and schemes, and unless these cases are cleared, the legality of Aadhaar Card is still stuck in a logjam.
We will keep you updated as more details come in.