SC To Decide On A Larger Bench For Aadhaar

The Supreme Court on Thursday assured the Narendra Modi government that it would decide by Friday evening whether or not to set up a larger bench for modifying an earlier order restricting the use of Aadhaar cards to just LPG subsidies and the public distribution system (PDS).

The apex court on Wednesday refused to modify its order, which restricts the wider use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for welfare schemes and projects other than the PDS and LPG scheme.

When Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi asked Chief Justice H.L. Dattu to constitute a larger bench to hear their plea for “clarification/ modification” of the August 11 order, the court assured the Centre and regulatory bodies like SEBI, RBI and TRAI that it would take a decision by Friday evening on their plea seeking an urgent hearing in the matter.

Rohatgi’s plea for modification of the earlier order to permit the voluntary use of Aadhaar card to other services was supported by senior lawyers K.K. Venugopal and Harish Salve.

The Supreme Court had said in a ruling on August 11 that the 12-digit Aadhaar card will remain optional for people who want to avail themselves of government welfare schemes, and the authorities should not use it for the purposes other than PDS and LPG distribution system.

Maintaining biometric data of over 900 million people without any legal obligation to maintain privacy is by far the most compelling argument against Aadhaar.

The Attorney General had pointed out that since Aadhaar card was not mandatory, there should not be any problem in allowing it to be used for other social benefit schemes on a voluntarily basis.