The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government and its agencies for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, however, said that government and its agencies cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar cards for non-welfare schemes like opening of bank accounts.
The bench also said that a seven-judge bench needed to be constituted for authoritatively deciding a batch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme on grounds including that it infringes on the Right to Privacy of citizens.
It, however, expressed inability in setting up of the seven-judge bench saying it would be decided at a later stage.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for one of the petitioners, alleged that the Central government is not following the various orders passed by the apex court that the usage of Aadhaar would be voluntary and not mandatory.
The apex court on August 11, 2015 had said that Aadhaar card will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes and barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrolment under the scheme.
However, on October 15, 2015 it had lifted its earlier restriction and permitted the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.