Cabinet clears Bill to make Aadhaar must

Cabinet clears Bill to make Aadhaar must

The state Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Bill that allows government departments to make Aadhaar a prerequisite for citizens to avail services.

The Karnataka State Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2017, has been anchored by the e-Governance wing, a portfolio Chief Minister Siddaramaiah holds.

"The Centre already has an Aadhaar Act. We are also bringing in a legislation to ensure government schemes reach genuine beneficiaries," Law Minister T B Jayachandra told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. The Bill will be tabled in the budget session next month.

Jayachandra defended the government's move to introduce a legislation on Aadhaar even as a Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court is hearing cases on linking of the unique identification number with various services. "We will put in place a legislation to be prepared in any case," he said.

At present, Aadhaar is being used chiefly by the Food and Civil Supplies department for the public distribution system, the education department for its Student Achievement Tracking System and the Revenue department for Parihara, a direct benefit transfer scheme for farmers. The government has drafted the legislation as administrative orders are issued on Aadhaar, making them vulnerable in the absence of a legal framework.

No person should suffer because one does not have an Aadhaar number, the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated. The Apex court has held that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory to avail benefits and government schemes, except for specific schemes such as LPG, ration, MNREGA, National Social Assistance Programme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the EPFO.

The Bill has been modelled after the ones enacted in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (Central Act), allows states to enact a legislation of their own to make use of the 12-digit unique number as they require.

According to the Unique Identification Authority of India statistics, Karnataka has 6.20 crore Aadhaar holders. Bengaluru tops with the highest Aadhaar numbers at 91.53 lakh.

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