Removing uncertainties about the validity of Aadhaar card to avail of government subsidies once and for all, the Supreme Court has confirmed that the Aadhar card is not obligatory, and additionally, officials who are adamant on them will be taken to charge. An irate Supreme Court issued a strict word of warning to the administration on learning that many government establishments still persist on Aadhaar for providing government subsidies and fundamental services to general public.
A Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and C. Nagappan clarified that demands made by officials for Aadhaar card is in apparent disobedience of the Supreme Court’s provisional order of September 23, 2013. In the 2013 order, the head court had directed that “No person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card, inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it obligatory”.
The court’s outline dismissal of Aadhaar card’s validity comes at a time when over 750 million Aadhar records have by now been generated.
“Aadhaar is being insisted upon by a variety of establishment. We do not want to go into precise instances. We expect the Union of India and all the States to stick on to the order dated September 23, 2013. We will take the officers concerned to task if any order comes on trace making it (Aadhaar) mandatory,” Justice Chelameswar observed.
The court was investigating a batch of petitions demanding the Aadhaar scheme as an infringement into the public’s right to confidentiality.
“It is a matter of great public importance. The issue has serious implication in terms of Constitution. Notwithstanding the court’s order, there is insistence for Aadhaar. There is complete apathy on the part of officials,” senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, representing one of the petitioners and Bangalore-resident, Mathew Thomas, submitted.
As an example, he referred to NCT government’s notification on March 9, 2015, insisting that couples need Aadhaar cards to get their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act.
In fact, senior advocate Anil Divan pointed out that the Bombay High Court Registrar had lately received an official statement asking him to make Aadhar obligatory for disbursal of payment to staff and even adjudicators. “You better advise the States, if the officials insist, it would have penalty. We will take them to task. This is absolutely not right,” Justice Chelameswar observed.
Mr. Subramanium argued that compilation of private records of populace of India under the Aadhaar scheme is not precisely a administrative action, but outsourced to private contractors.
“On the outside it (Aadhaar) is a simple document of identity, but it has linkages by means of iris scans and biometric details. God forbid if identities are exchanged or erroneous. the Executive’s scheme involves private partners. Who are these private partners?” Mr. Subramanium submitted.
Submitting how the common man is now level to the dangers of identity deceit, Mr. Subramanium said the “Sovereign State also has the duty to protect its citizens, to protect his identity, his personal information against possible misuse”.