Govt to decide Aadhaar alternatives post SC order

Govt to decide Aadhaar alternatives post SC order

If the Supreme Court rules that the unique identification card cannot be made mandatory to avail government services, the Centre may ask for ration cards or voter identity cards as an alternative.

The Petroleum Ministry is mulling over the use of other substitutes such as ration card, voter ID card or driving licence to provide cash subsidy to LPG beneficiaries, but it is still unsure about ways to make them authentic.

“There are several other documents, and ration card may be one,” a senior government official told Deccan Herald but expressed concerns that no other document “can provide the foolproof authenticity” as Aadhaar.

“In case of other documents we will have to find some other supporting document to ascertain cent percent authenticity,” he said.

The Central government has planned to link the Aadhaar card number to all social sector schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act job card, scholarships, pension ID and others. But currently only LPG is largely linked to Aadhaar.

Aadhaar provides a resident a 12-digit unique number after recording bio metric information like fingerprints and iris. Its authenticity is considered close to perfect. The government has planned to use this unique identification card for its cash transfer scheme for various subsidies to ensure the benefits reach the right person.

The Aadhaar platform, which also seeks to eliminate diversions and plug leakages, is already being used for transfer of LPG subsidy in cash to bank accounts of beneficiaries in 97 districts of the country. The government had planned to extend it to almost 265 districts by January 1, 2014.

Direct cash transfer for LPG began on June 1 in 19 districts. The government gave a three-month grace period to enable consumers to get the Aadhaar card and link it with their bank accounts.

After the expiry of this period, according to the government, cash subsidy may be provided only to consumers who had Aadhaar cards.

But the Supreme Court recently issued an order that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory for people to get government services and nobody should be deprived of facilities for want of the card. It also rejected the review petition filed by the government on this issue.

After the court’s order, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily had said Aadhaar would not be mandatory for availing LPG subsidy till it was cleared by the Supreme Court or through legislative authorisation. However, in those districts where the three-month grace period has lapsed, the consumers are being charged at the open market rate even for their subsidised LPG refills, the official said.

The Supreme Court will hear the argument in Aadhaar case again on Tuesday.

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