Furious Supreme Court to government on Aadhaar: How can you make it compulsory?

The Supreme Court had on March 27 made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.

The Supreme Court today came down hard on the government over the issue of making Aadhaar compulsory in complete violation of the apex court's previous order.

"How can you make Aadhaar mandatory despite a clear order to make it optional. Is making Aadhaar by force the only way to tackle fraud?" a furious Supreme Court told the Centre while hearing a PIL against the government's decision making Aadhaar compulsory.

GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE

"We found a number of of Pan cards being used to divert funds to shell companies. To prevent this, the only option is to make Aadhaar card mandatory," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court bench.

WHAT SUPREME COURT RULING SAYS

The Supreme Court had on March 27 made it clear that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.

The top court, however, said that the government cannot be barred from seeking these cards, which are issued by UIDAI, for "non-benefit" purposes like filing of IT returns and opening of accounts

"The answer is this that for giving benefits of welfare schemes, it (Aadhaar) cannot be pressed. They (government and its agencies) cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar for non-benefit schemes like opening of bank accounts," a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had said.

The apex court on August 11, 2015 had said that Aadhaar cards will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government's welfare schemes and barred the authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrollment 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.

(With PTI inputs)

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