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15 October 2015 | E-Paper

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Last Modified: Thu, Oct 15 2015. 05 11 PM IST

SC allows use of Aadhaar for all state and


central schemes
The Supreme Court will appoint a larger bench of at least nine judges to hear the
privacy violation case

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Apurva Vishwanathan | Saurabh Kumar

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Aadhaar is purely voluntary and not mandatory till the matter is decided by the Supreme
Court. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: In a major triumph for the government, the Supreme Court on Thursday
allowed the use of Aadhaar number for all state and central schemes, including the
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Pradhan Mantri
Jan Dhan Yojana and provident fund.
In an interim order on 11 August, the apex court had restricted the use of Aadhaar,
the unique identity number, to paying subsidies for the public distribution system
and cooking gas and kerosene.
Subsequently, a number of regulatory authorities put up a joint defence seeking a
modification of the interim order. They included the Reserve Bank of India,
Securities and Exchange Board of India and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India,
the governments of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh,
Gujarat and Rajasthan, and industry body Indian Banks Association along with the
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the issuer of Aadhaar.
A five-judge constitutional bench comprising Chief Justice H.L Dattu and justices
M.Y Eqbal, C. Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said in an order on
Thursday, We are of the opinion that in para 3 of the interim order, we can include
schemes like MGNREGS, pensions by state and central government, Jan Dhan
Yojana and Employees Provident Fund Scheme along with PDS and LPG.
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Para 3 of the 11 August interim order had allowed the use of Aadhaar for direct
benefit transfer in foodgrain, kerosene and cooking gas schemes.
The courts interim order threw an element of uncertainty around flagship
government programmes such as biometric attendance, Jan Dhan Yojana, digital
certificates, pension payments and, more recently, the introduction of payments
banks, all of which critically depend on the Aadhaar number.
The apex court has also not allowed the use of Aadhaar for e-know-your-customer,
which would have helped banks, including payments banks, to enrol new
customers and telecom operators for issuing SIM cards among others.
As of now, 920 million Indian citizens have been allotted Aadhaar numbers. The
interim stay was affecting beneficiaries of the MGNREGS (91.7 million), pensioners
(27.1 million) and recipients of scholarships (25.7 million), among others, according
to data from UIDAI. Till now, 187 million bank accounts have been opened under the
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.
The apex court made the interim ruling in an ongoing hearing where several pleas
related to Aadhaar were clubbed together. Some relate to Aadhaar numbers being
made mandatory to enable people to avail of certain government benefits and
services. Others deal with the number being a violation of privacy, especially in the
absence of any backing regulation or oversight, and yet others deal with possible
misuse of the information.
The Supreme Court will appoint a larger bench of at least nine judges to hear the
privacy violation case. The court in 1954, in the case of M.P. Sharma vs Satish
Chandra, ruled that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right recognized by
the Constitution. This case was decided by an eight-judge bench of the apex court,
and only a bench of equal or larger strength will be able to override that decision.
Apurva Vishwanathan |

Saurabh Kumar

TOPICS: AADHAAR SUPREME COURT

MGNREGA

EPF

VOLUNTARY USE

First Published: Thu, Oct 15 2015. 04 28 PM IST

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