The Supreme Court observed on Monday that no individual can be denied social welfare scheme benefits due to lack of government’s unique identity number Aadhaar. It, however, declined a request to conduct an urgent hearing of a case challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar programme.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan mentioned the matter in front of a bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
Divan submitted that while the apex court order clearly says that Aadhaar is voluntary, the government is making it mandatory for certain government schemes.
The bench, however, declined to grant an urgent hearing, saying it needs to be heard by a seven-judge bench, which will be constituted in due course of time.
When referred to the Finance Bill’s proposal making Aadhaar mandatory for income tax returns from post July this year, the apex court said income tax does not come under the definition of benefit.
Last week, responding to opposition criticism in Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that Aadhaar may soon become the only card required to identify a person, replacing voter IDs and Permanent Account Number. He said as many as 98 percent or 108 crore people have Aadhaar numbers.
The apex court had on 15 October 2015 lifted its earlier restrictions and permitted voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, all pension schemes, provident fund, besides flagship programmes like 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna' of the NDA government.
(This story was first published on BloombergQuint.)
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