Assuring that it was not making the Aadhar card mandatory for public services, the Centre on Tuesday defended the validity of the Aadhar by the Unique Identification Authority of India and said calling it off may affect various welfare schemes and the government’s resolve to counter poverty.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a three judge-bench led by Justice J Chelameswar that the government has spent Rs 5,000 crores on several welfare schemes linked to the UID programme and that 80 crore people in the country are now enrolled.
He also assured the court that the Centre was complying with a previous order of not making Aadhar compulsory for people to avail social benefit schemes, LPG subsidy and other public services.
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Rohatgi, while maintaining that there was no illegality or irregularity in implementing the UID programme, said that the if the court wished to look into the validity of the Aadhar, the issue must be referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
He said that issues relating to the right to privacy and other important contentions relating to the constitutionality of the UID programme were raised in a batch of petitions against the Aadhar and hence a larger bench should hear it. The bench said it would hear tomorrow the arguments for referring the matter to a larger bench.
By an interim order issued in March 2014, the court has held that people cannot be denied any service or benefit for not having an Aadhaar card.