Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Supreme Court, which has so far maintained that
Aadhar card is not compulsory for availing social benefits, is expected to conduct a final hearing on Tuesday in a case related to its implementation by the Centre and various state governments.
This will be the final Supreme Court hearing in the case, which comes in light of demands made by the Union government and oil companies seeking a modification of its interim order that restrained the government from making Aadhar mandatory.
On a previous hearing, the apex court had maintained that the Aadhar card, being issued by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), was not mandatory for availing any government services and nobody should be deprived of any such facilities for want of the card.
The apex court also directed the Centre not to issue it to illegal immigrants as it would legitimise their stay.
The apex court had passed the order while hearing a batch of pleas against the decisions of some states to make Aadhar cards compulsory for a range of activities including salary, PF disbursals and marriage and property registrations.
Following the Supreme Court order, the Centre then approached it seeking modification of its order.
The highest court passed its order while hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by social worker like Aruna Roy against the implementation of the Aadhar scheme or the "Unique Identification Number" System (UID), linking it to various social benefit schemes.
The petitions came up before a bench comprising Justices BS Chauhan and SA Bobde, which decided to club them with other applications, filed by the Centre and the three oil PSUs seeking modification of its earlier order that Aadhar card is not mandatory.
"The enrolment under the UIDAI scheme is purportedly voluntary - yet many welfare schemes of the State seem to mandate the need for an Aadhar number to access those schemes - effectively making Aadhar enrolment compulsory," the petition filed by social workers said.
The petition also said the manner in which the biometric details of the citizens are collected by private contractors and NGOs hired by UIDAI without any safeguard makes it prone to misuse not only by private actors but also by the State.
The petitioners also claimed there is an empirical research to show that the biometric identification denoted for UID, namely the Iris Scan and finger print Identification, is faulty and capable of misuse.
The petition also said the scheme violates the fundamental rights of the citizens and the government is practically making it mandatory for seeking benefits under various welfare schemes such as PDS, MNERGA, pensions, scholarships, Janani Suraksha Yojana and LPG connections meant for economically weaker sections whose lives and livelihood depend on such schemes.
Those who do not manage to enrol are ultimately excluded and since it involves dependency on machines, any technical failure would mean delay with no alternative, it said.
It also said though UIDAI claims that persons with no document to prove their identity can be introduced by other individuals with UID who can certify their identity "it is not as simple as it sounds and give rises to various security risks and the possibility of fake identities, which can compromise national security."
The petition said implementing the UID system in its present form amounts to direct infringement on fundamental rights of the citizens because of the lack of data protection.
It also said it violates the right of equality before law and protection of life and personal liberty as by linking UID with other social welfare benefit schemes, persons who are currently benefiting under such existing welfare schemes, run the risk of being arbitrarily excluded.
The petitions were filed after the Supreme Court ruled that the Aadhar card, being issued by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI, was not mandatory for availing any government services and nobody should be deprived of any such facilities for want of the card.
After this, the Centre and oil PSUs, including IOCL, BPCL and HPCL, also approached the court speaking about "serious doubts, confusion and uncertainty" in the minds of citizens who have already enrolled for Aadhar card to avail Direct Benefit Transfer for Liquefied Petroleum Gas Consumers (DBTL) scheme to get subsidised LPG cylinders.