Govt Clarifies: Aadhaar Card Is Not Mandatory; Indian Citizens Can Get Benefits, Subsidies Without Aadhaar
Govt. of India has finally provided some clarity on the usage of Aadhaar Card; especially since last few months, a common impression was building up that getting a Aadhaar Card is compulsory and mandatory for accessing Govt. sponsored benefits and subsidies.
In a reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for IT and Electronics P P Chaudhary informed that Aadhaar Card is an optional identity for Indian citizens, and lack of it cannot be a basis for denying any benefits or subsidies for anyone.
Thus, in a way, Aadhaar is just another form of verification; not the only form of verification for accessing Govt. schemes.
Minister Chaudhary said, “Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act provides that if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.”
Hence, with this clarification, Govt. has endorsed and accepted Supreme Court’s stand on the validity and relevance of Aadhaar Card in India. And the prevailing confusion has been cleared to a larger extent.
Confusion Over Aadhaar Card’s Power?
In an order dated October 15, 2015, Supreme Court had ordered that the usage of Aadhaar Card should not be extended beyond any purpose other than PDS scheme, kerosene and LPG subsidy. Later, it was extended to include MGNREGS, National Social Assistance Programme pensions (old age, widow and disability pensions), PMJDY and EPFO.
However, in September this year, doubts were raised on the usage of Aadhaar, when Govt. passed the Aadhaar Bill (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) as a money bill to give it a legal backing. After this, Govt. got sufficient control to impose Aadhaar on every citizen of India, and every Govt. scheme.
Within a few days, Supreme Court had to intervene, and re-state that Aadhaar is only a voluntary form of identification, and nothing more.
Earlier, IRCTC had mandated Aadhaar for booking tickets, mandated for starting a new business and even ordered smartphone manufacturers to link all handsets with Aadhaar cards for receiving Govt. schemes and benefits.
We will keep you updated as more details come in regarding the usage and application of Aadhaar Card.