Govt can make Aadhaar mandatory in non-benefit services: Supreme Court

“If we understand the previous orders in the right context, we think you cannot enforce it (Aadhaar) for extending benefits but you can do it otherwise...something like opening a bank account...it is not a benefit, so Aadhaar can be pressed,” said Chief Justice of India J S Khehar.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: March 28, 2017 11:05 am
Aadhaar, Aadhaar card, Aadhaar mandatory, Aadhaar supreme court, supreme court, latest news, indian express Aadhaar card

IN A tacit approval of the government’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for services such as bank accounts, I-T returns and PAN cards, the Supreme Court Monday observed that Aadhaar can be “pressed” for all “non-benefit” plans where questions of entitlements do not occur.

“If we understand the previous orders in the right context, we think you cannot enforce it (Aadhaar) for extending benefits but you can do it otherwise…something like opening a bank account…it is not a benefit, so Aadhaar can be pressed,” said Chief Justice of India J S Khehar.

The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay K Kaul, said: “Let us take Income Tax returns. Is this a benefit? No, we don’t think so. You can ask someone to have a bank account on the basis of Aadhaar. That is not a benefit. But if you want to make it mandatory for a poor person in a village to get his meagre pension, that could mean extending a benefit.” The CJI further said: “For benefits, it (Aadhaar) cannot be pressed…for non-benefits, it can be done.”

The court’s observations came as it declined to fix the clutch of matters relating to validity of Aadhaar on a fixed date, given the fact that the government was coming up with notifications one after the other, making Aadhaar mandatory for different services and schemes. On January 5, too, the CJI had refused to expedite the matter “for the time being”.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who was appearing for the first petitioner in the case — retired Karnataka High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy, had mentioned the matter before the CJI to secure an early and fixed date of hearing so that the applications questioning the government’s actions could be heard.

Divan recalled the judicial history of the case since 2012, underlining there have been three orders in the last three years clearly stating that “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card” and added that people have to get it “voluntarily”.

He added that the orders have been modified to enable the government to link Aadhaar with some social welfare schemes but always with a rider that no person would suffer for not having the UID card.

“The court orders are being breached,” complained Divan as he urged the bench to give a date for hearing the applications, and later fix the main matter for a hearing by a Constitution Bench in accordance with August 2015 order of a three-judge bench.

But the CJI turned down both the pleas. “IAs (interim applications) and interim orders are not the solution…disposal of this case is. We think this will have to go to a seven-judge bench. It is going to take us some time to spare seven judges. And then there is already an adequate protection to you by way of previous interim orders,” said Justice Khehar.

Divan responded that there was some urgency in the matter since the government has prescribed deadlines for linking various schemes and services with Aadhaar. His repeated requests failed to cut much ice with the CJI, who said that no order could be passed on either retaining this matter for a hearing on a particular date or setting up a larger bench.

Justice Khehar said that Justice J Chelameswar, who was heading the three-judge bench when he referred the issue to a Constitution Bench, has been consulted on the larger bench but he has prioritised the hearing of different cases. “There are three matters which are to be heard by Justice Chelameswar. We had put it before him and he has decided that he would hear the cases one after another,” the CJI told Divan.

When Divan asked the CJI whether he could mention this matter before Justice Chelameswar and request for a hearing, Justice Khehar said: “You should not…he (Justice Chelameswar) has already referred it to a larger bench.”

The main plank of the clutch of petitions on Aadhaar is that it infringes upon citizen’s right to privacy, which flows from Article 21 that deals with the fundamental right to life. The petition underlined that people are required to part with biometric information, iris and fingerprints while there is no system to ensure that all this data will be safe and not be misused by the private collecting agencies.

On August 11, 2015, the three-judge bench noted that right to privacy was the focus of the controversy surrounding the validity of Aadhaar, and that in the wake of conflicting judgments by smaller benches on this subject, a Constitution Bench should determine it finally.

In October 2015, a five-judge bench was set up only for the purpose of deciding the government’s application on letting it use Aadhaar for services in addition to public distribution schemes (PDS) as well as LPG cylinder distribution.

The application was allowed by the court, permitting the government to use Aadhaar for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), National Social Assistance Programme (Old Age Pensions, Widow Pensions, Disability Pensions) Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

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  1. S
    Suchindranath Aiyer
    Mar 28, 2017 at 9:26 am
    It is NOT wrong. There is NO harm. India's kangaroos think in double negatives. The power of social engineering and iniquitous Consution,
    Reply
    1. B
      Bik gaya
      Mar 28, 2017 at 3:20 am
      "But if you want to make it mandatory for a poor person in a village to get his meagre pension, that could mean extending a benefit."lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;But the pension is deposited in a an account and the bank account or post office will have mandatory Aadhar card.So, what is the point of this explanation !!
      Reply
      1. A
        AR
        Mar 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm
        Adhaar uniquely identifies and single out a human being irrespective of by whatever name s/he introduces self or be known. It can subsute one's name only and nothing else.
        Reply
        1. N
          NTK
          Mar 27, 2017 at 4:58 pm
          So for every move of the GoI, the useless douche bags in SC has to interpret the consution and see if it is being violated? lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Is that because only CRIMINALS, RAPISTS, MURDERERS, BROTHEL RUNNERS, SMUGGLERS, M MURDERERS are Law Makers and the entire govt machinery and its agencies are facilitating them?
          Reply
          1. T
            T DUTTA
            Mar 28, 2017 at 2:31 am
            NOMENCLATURE NEEDS TO BE EXAMINED
            Reply
            1. T
              T DUTTA
              Mar 28, 2017 at 2:29 am
              SARADA and NARADA--only change of one alphabet---IF S IS CHANGED TO N not only the word changes but the gender also changes--SARADA IS FEMININE[name of wife of ramkrishna paramhans] and NARADA IS MASCULINE. NARADA IS ALSO THE NAME OF MISCHIEVOUS PERSON IN HINDU MYTHILOGY----THE NOMENCLATURE MAY BE SOMESORT OF A CLUE
              Reply
              1. T
                T DUTTA
                Mar 28, 2017 at 2:33 am
                another similar word is SHARDA
                Reply
                1. G
                  Ganapathy Balasubramaniam
                  Mar 28, 2017 at 7:12 am
                  Aadhar is a well intended scheme and will bring better administration ensuring the lt;br/gt;govt. schemes benefit the commoner
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    kamath Ramesh
                    Mar 28, 2017 at 10:45 am
                    Courts orders are funny and contradictory. In one order it said adhar is not mandatory for social benefits on the other it said for opening bank account adhar can be mandatory. If adhar is mandatory for bank account it amounts to mandatory for social benefits as well, as all social benefits are transferred to the beneficiaries bank account.
                    Reply
                    1. P
                      Peter Parker
                      Mar 27, 2017 at 9:24 pm
                      Bad idea.. This judge is a complete moron.. You don't need aadhar to get benefits but you need aadhar to open bank account. What an ..
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Mahender Goriganti
                        Mar 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm
                        It is moronic why SC will legislate from the bench and that too about the area that is more prone to, fraud, abuse, national security and corruption.
                        Reply
                        1. M
                          Mahender Goriganti
                          Mar 27, 2017 at 5:44 pm
                          Only criminals, dishonest have everything to hide so they con continue with criminal activates, gooda-ism, anti national activities, terrorism, looting of public benefits, lt;br/gt;A truly Honest persons have nothing to hide from others, other than bedroom activity for modesty.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            Mahender Goriganti
                            Mar 28, 2017 at 12:01 am
                            if Aadhaar is prevented by SC make multiple idenies to be mandatory for social services benefits to get around this nonsense from SC.
                            Reply
                            1. N
                              Niladrinath Mohanty
                              Mar 28, 2017 at 2:28 am
                              I read report mentioning that rations are being drawn for 4.5 lakhs ghost students under mid day meal scheme in Odisha. If aadhaar card identification is made compulsory even for a child this type of fraud and corruption can be reduced if not eliminated. Mid day meal scheme is also a benefit scheme. I am unable to under the reservation of the Supreme Court about aadhaar card. About infringement of privacy because of aadhaar card- I am a little puzzled- what exactly is this privacy that will be breached?
                              Reply
                              1. N
                                Nirmal Giri
                                Mar 28, 2017 at 8:58 am
                                But this doesnt make sense.. If one is enled to benefit, I believe AADHAR should be be mandatory. The sole purpose of introducing Aadhar back in September 2015 was for enlement of benefits. lt;br/gt;For non-benefits, Aadhar should not be mandatory. lt;br/gt;The reasoning and explanation provided does not make sense.
                                Reply
                                1. m
                                  moment_in_infinity
                                  Mar 27, 2017 at 6:14 pm
                                  On what basis SC wants to stop the usage of Adhar in benefits... Aadhar is more secure than anything else known in India, and what is it in benefits that needs to be more secure than Aadhar system and who is saying that anything in benefit system currently is more secure than Aadhar?
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    shinde shamrao
                                    Mar 28, 2017 at 4:35 am
                                    at the outset korts have no bussiness to get into executive decisions of adhar card bussiness.it is the prerogative of govt to initiate measures for identifying the national ideny o f all its citizens.this process is followed world over.korts have now come down tsaving devise.still we appreciate their stand for sheer respect for judiciery.but neverthe less they o exumpt some descritionery activities which is still world.we understand this is face saving devise but we accept to respect judiciery,but with a rider to refrain in future to saline their hands in not so impotant issues.
                                    Reply
                                    1. G
                                      GMH
                                      Mar 27, 2017 at 11:45 pm
                                      I would like to be identified more as a brahmin than through an Aadhaar ID card or even as a citizen of this country and that country. It is my caste that gives me my unique "above all" ideny. That is why, I write that every time I write my name as Surname and make everybody identify me by my CASTE LAST NAME. What a shameless creature I must be.
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                                      1. U
                                        user
                                        Mar 27, 2017 at 6:57 pm
                                        Innovative interpretations are common these days. That apart, linking everything to adhar is a bad idea for the country as it becomes vulnerable to compromise. Instead, a distributed id system should be implemented.
                                        Reply
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