Centre pitches for voluntary benefit of Aadhaar card in Supreme Court

The AG told the court a poor man will have no second thoughts about doing away with his privacy rights to enroll for Aadhaar.

The government on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to modify its August 11 order and allow crores of citizens willing to voluntarily enroll for Aadhaar to get social benefits and services.

Attorney-general Mukul Rohtagi told a three-judge bench headed by justice J Chelameswar that a poor man will have no second thoughts about doing away with his privacy rights to enroll for Aadhaar. He said that Aadhaar is taken voluntarily and is an “informed choice” made by the citizen. According to him, Aadhaar is a voluntary scheme and does not require the force of law in the forum of a statutory sanction or the like.

Rohatgi said the SC can’t shut its doors on 50 crore people suffering because of its interim order confining the use of Aadhaar to PDS and LPG schemes. “This is a court, which opened its doors for a man on death row at 2 am, it cannot close its doors on 50 crore people now,” the AG argued.

The UIDAI has told the Supreme Court in its application that the restriction on use of Aadhaar cards seems to undermine the government’s ambitious Digital India initiative and has requested for clearance to include Aadhaar’s use for schemes like biometric attendance system, digital certificates and pension payments, among others. The apex court has posted the matter for directions on Wednesday.

The bench on August 11 had made Aadhaar optional except for public distribution system and LPG connections.

A clutch of BJP-ruled/friendly states have moved the apex court on being allowed to use Aadhaar for various schemes — the list includes Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Manipur, Nagaland and Haryana. Various central bodies like RBI, Sebi, Trai and the Pension Regulatory Authority have also joined suit.