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SC rules Aadhaar not mandatory for securing benefits

NEW DELHI, September 23, 2013, DHNS: 3:06 IST

Govt says card is purely voluntary

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that no citizen should be deprived of any benefit or service for not possessing Aadhaar card, which the Centre claimed was voluntary.

Passing an interim order, a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde also directed that Aadhaar card should not be issued to illegal migrants as it could be linked with certain advantages for residents of the country.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and Additional Solicitor General L Nageswara Rao insisted that no interim order was required in the matter since Aadhaar was not a proof of citizenship.

They also contended that Aadhaar was purely a voluntary scheme.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Justice K S Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court challenging the legal validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

The petition raised questions not only over the government’s authority to implement the scheme, but also highlighted the perils in the manner of its implementation, including distributing it to illegal migrants.

“You cannot give it to an illegal migrant. Do you verify the details before you issue an Aadhaar card to a person? Don’t you verify whether the person is an Indian or not? We should clarify that Aadhaar card cannot be issued to an illegal migrant. The card has its own advantages,” the bench said.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Anil Divan pointed out that the government claimed that Aadhaar was voluntary but different states had embarked upon making it compulsory for a range of formalities, including marriage registration, disbursal of salaries and provident fund, among other public services.

He also pointed out that the Bombay High Court registrar had issued a notification directing court employees to have Aadhaar card for the purposes of disbursal of employment-related benefits.

On this, the court said an interim order was required in the matter. It brushed aside the opposition by the law officers.

The bench said, “We are also saying the same thing that you said, besides asking you not to issue Aadhaar to illegal migrants.”

The court also asked the senior counsel to make categorical request if any state government decided to link transfer of a particular scheme with Aadhaar card.

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