Aadhar Not Compulsory for Govt Schemes: SC

The Supreme Court made it clear that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for public to avail benefits of social welfare schemes. However, the court added that the government cannot be stopped from implementing the same for non-welfare schemes.

While refusing to set an early date of hearing, a bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar said it would soon set up a seven-judge bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging the scheme for infringing on citizens’ rights to privacy.

However, in direct contradiction, the government has already made the 12-digit UID compulsory for grant of incentives under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).

The top court’s observations have come just days after the Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, making Aadhaar mandatory to apply for a PAN card or file income tax returns. The government has also asked all mobile service providers to re-verify their existing customers with Aadhaar details, and said it would ask States to link driving licences with Aadhaar to weed out fake and multiple licences.

In August 2015, the Supreme Court said the Aadhaar would not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes. It had also barred authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected under the scheme. Later, the court allowed ‘voluntary’ use of the universal number for welfare schemes.

In October 2015, the Supreme Court had extended the voluntary use of the card to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), all types of pensions schemes, employee provident fund and the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana.