Supreme Court: For opening bank accounts, filing IT returns Aadhaar can be made compulsory
New Delhi, March 28: The Supreme Court has made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made compulsory by the government for giving benefits of social welfare schemes to citizens.
While the government cannot be prevented from seeking these ID cards, which are issued by UIDAI, for “non-benefit” purposes like filing of IT returns and for opening accounts.
The bench, comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, has declined to fix a date of hearing of petitions challenging the constitutional validity and relevance of Aadhaar on grounds including that it fringed Right to Privacy of citizens.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for one of the petitioners, claimed that the Central government is not obeying the various orders passed by the apex court that the usage of Aadhaar would be only voluntary and not mandatory.
In reference to certain recent decisions of the government including making Aadhaar compulsory for the issuance of driving licenses and filing of IT returns and by making the cards, issued by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), mandatory, the government is indulging in “contempt of court”.
The Supreme court on August 11, 2015, said that Aadhaar cards will not be made compulsory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes and barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrollment under the scheme.
However, on October 15, 2015 it had lifted its earlier confinement and allowed the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension plans and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.
A five-judge bench headed by the then Chief Justice H L Dattu had also put a caveat in its interim order for the Centre and said, “We make it clear that Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and not compulsory till the matter is finally decided by this court, this way or the other way.”