The Supreme Court is of the opinion that the government cannot make Aadhaar cards, with their Unique Identification (UID) scheme numbers, mandatory for extending benefits of its welfare schemes. However, the court on March 27 saw no problem in Aadhaar cards being used in issues such as opening of bank accounts, etc.
These were just observations by the apex court when senior advocate Shyam Diwan brought up the issue before the Chief Justice of India JS Khehar for urgent hearing. Diwan read from the October 15, 2015 order of the apex court, by the then CJI, which said that the matter should be disposed of as soon as possible.
The CJI said that since this was an important matter, the apex court will have to constitute a seven-judge bench and that “this will take time”. He informed the counsel: “We cannot give you any date.”
Soon after having taken over as the CJI in January this year, Justice Khehar had reviewed the situation and had commented that the UID showed some “positivity”. He had also said he was not sure how such gathering of biometric information collected for Aadhaar cards would affect a person “adversely”.
At that time Justice Khehar had also observed that giving private agencies the task of collecting such sensitive data was not a “good idea”.
By that time, 1,08 crore Indian citizens had already been allotted 12-digit Aadhaar numbers.
According to recent money bills and directives from the finance ministry, all will have to link their bank accounts with this UID number, they will not be able to file their income tax returns without Aadhaar numbers from July and PAN will have to linked with Aadhaar as well. More such instructions are on the way, it has been said.
When counsel Diwan had pointed out about super-surveillance systems being put in place by the government, Justice Khehar had reportedly commented in January: “Surveillance to what? Is it a big deal? Even I gave all my papers when asked for. Let them know where I am.”
—By India Legal Bureau