The Supreme Court Monday directed the Centre and states to make sure people are not denied any service or benefit for not having an Aadhaar card, and added those not complying with its order will be “taken to task”.
A three-judge bench led by Justice J Chelameswar asked all the authorities, including the Unique Identification Authority of India, to follow in letter and spirit its September 2013 interim order. The 2013 order had clarified that no person shall be deprived of any benefit or service for want of an Aadhaar card.
“It has been brought to the notice that the Aadhaar identification (card) is being insisted upon by various authorities. We are not going into the specific instances at the moment. We expect that the Union of India and states and all their functionaries shall adhere to the order dated September 23, 2013,” said the bench. It had earlier observed that “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card” and that certain circulars seeking to make it mandatory will not be insisted upon providing for any service.
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Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, who appeared for one of the petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar, informed the court that various authorities demanded Aadhaar cards for the purposes of lease deed and marriage registrations.
At this, the bench asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, to ensure that authorities adhere to its earlier order. As Kumar argued that violations could be on the part of the states and the Centre had no role, the bench retorted: “This cannot be an excuse for you.”
The SG then responded by saying that the Centre will be writing to Chief Secretaries of all states in this regard. The Solicitor General later told the court that as all the states are party, they can be asked to ensure that the order is followed and their officials like District Magistrates are informed about it.
The bench is hearing a batch of petitions, challenging the validity of Aadhaar card and the manner in which data is collected by the UIDAI. It fixed July for detailed hearing of the petitions.