The government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for subsidised foodgrains through public distribution system (PDS) today came under the scanner of the Delhi High Court. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notice to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and sought their response before the next date of hearing on April 24.
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The bench also sought the stand of the Delhi government on the plea which seeks disbursal of subsidised foodgrains to the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), without asking for Aadhaar.
The public interest litigation (PIL) has sought quashing of the Centre’s February 8 notification, making it mandatory to have an Aadhaar card for availing benefits under NFSA, saying it violates the basic principle of law enshrinerd in Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The Centre has given time to those people who do not have the biometric-based unique identification number to apply for Aadhaar by June 30.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) after collecting biometric data of citizens.
The notification came into effect from February 8 in all states and UTs, except Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir.
Under the NFSA, which was rolled out across the country in November last year, five kg of foodgrains per person is provided each month at Rs 1-3 per kg to over 80 crore people.
A social organisation — Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan — has moved the court seeking to enforce the fundamental right to food to the residents of Delhi, particularly the poor and vulnerable groups which are dependent on subsidised foodgrains distributed by the Delhi government through the PDS, which it claims is severely impaired by the notification.
Challenging the constitutional vires of the Aadhaar/UID project, the plea said that due to the enforcement of the notification, people are being deprived of their rightful entitlement under the NFSA.
It said the Supreme Court in an interim order in October 2015 had allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar and ruled that no citizen can be denied a service or subsidy for want of it.
The plea further alleged that the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for subsidised food goes against the Supreme Court’s interim order and places the most vulnerable at the risk of being left out of the food security net.