New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rapped the Centre for making Aadhaar compulsory, saying that the practise is a clear violation of the apex court’s previous order.
Reacting over a PIL against the government’s decision of making Aadhaar compulsory, the apex court asked, “How can you make Aadhaar mandatory despite a clear order to make it optional? Is making Aadhaar by force the only way to tackle fraud?”
In its argument, the central government claimed that the earlier order only applies for beneficiary schemes like LPG and food grains, and the government is free to use it for other services like income tax.
“We have come across a number of cases where Pan cards have been used to divert funds to shell companies. To prevent this, the only option is to make Aadhaar card mandatory,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court bench.
Earlier on March 27, the Supreme Court had ordered that the these cards cannot be made compulsory by the government for providing benefits of social welfare schemes.
The court, however, had said that the Centre cannot be barred for seeking these cards, which have been issued by UIDAI, for non-beneficial matters like filing of IT returns and opening of accounts.
“The government cannot press for Aadhaar for giving benefits of welfare schemes. The Centre is free to seek Aadhaar for non-benefit schemes like opening of bank accounts,” a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar had said.
On August 11, 2015, the apex court had directed that the Aadhaar cards will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes and restricted the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrollment under the scheme.
However, on October 15, 2015 it had lifted its earlier restriction and permitted the voluntary use of these cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.