Published On: Wed, Oct 14th, 2015

Nobody should be at disadvantageous position for want of Aadhaar

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today took note of Centre’s plea that Aadhaar cards be allowed to be used “voluntarily” for welfare programmes other than PDS and LPG schemes and asked whether it can assure that nobody would be at a “disadvantageous” position for want of Aadhaar.

Chief Justice of India H L Dattu

Chief Justice of India H L Dattu

“Do you (Centre) make it a precedent for giving benefits of schemes? Do you say that a person will not be put to a disadvantageous position because of lack of Aadhaar?” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi when he pitched strongly for voluntary use of Aadhaar to provide benefits of various welfare schemes to “the poorest of poor”.

“The answer to the question (whether Aadhaar would be voluntary) is : Yes. If the court wants, the affidavit of the highest functionary will be available by 10.30 am tomorrow,” the Attorney General said and reiterated time and again during the two-hour-long hearing that nobody will be deprived of any benefits for either want of Aadhaar or for not using it.

The bench, also comprising Justices M Y Eqbal, C Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, may continue hearing the matter tomorrow also as the advancing of arguments on pleas of the Centre, RBI, SEBI, IRDA, TRAI, the Pension Fund Regulatory Authority and states like Gujarat and Jharkhand for modification of the August 11 order remained inconclusive.

During the hearing, the court also observed that though it is often said that Aadhaar is not mandatory, but at times, some authorities do “insist” on it.

A three-judge bench had on August 11 referred a batch of petitions, challenging Aadhaar cards scheme, to a larger bench for an authoritative view on the question as to whether the right to privacy is fundamental right or not and had also restricted the use of Aadhaar to PDS and LPG scheme only.

Rohatgi, initiating arguments, referred to the facts about the Aadhaar, the background of the cases, their reference to the CJI for setting up of larger bench and the reasons for interim pleas of the Centre and its bodies for modification of the order for voluntary use of the Aadhaar cards in other welfare schemes like MNREGA, pension and ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’.

PTI

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