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Supreme Court Rules Aadhaar Not Mandatory For Social Benefits

The Supreme Court of India has ordered that the government should not restrict social benefits to those who are yet to receive their Aadhaar card and not to issue the card to illegal migrants, reports The Economic Times.

The ruling comes after a PIL was raised by Karnataka High Court judge KS Puttaswamy claiming that various state governments have linked social benefits to Aadhaar, resulting in many people denied of these benefits. Besides this, the PIL also claimed that the UID was violating Article 21 – “Protection of life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” To get an Aadhaar card, one has to submit biometric details such as finger printing and iris scan.

The PIL further claimed that the Aadhaar card is being distributed to everyone indiscriminately, including illegal migrants, posing a security risk to the nation. We have heard of several instance where people were receiving Aadhaar cards for a second time, despite already having received them earlier: fourteen branch post offices in Garladinne mandal have received a bunch of Aadhaar cards second time. In April 2013, UIDAI had apparently issued around 3,858 Aadhaar letters with photos of trees, animals or buildings in place of the photos of individuals.

In April 2012, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had apparently issued an an Aadhaar card to a fictitious Mr Kothimeer (coriander) with a photo of a mobile phone. In May 2012, the Indian Postal Department had apparently sent back around 50,000 Aadhaar cards issued in Hyderabad to The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), citing non-existing addresses. In January 2013, UIDAI had reportedly issued thousands of Aadhaar cards for the second timefor the same people, as indicated by a Deccan Chronicle report.

Schemes where state government made Aadhaar card mandatory

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– Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) employees had not received their salary for the month of December 2012 due to lack of UID card. The salary was stopped as per instructions from municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte and additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar. BMC had asked their staffers to get the aadhaar card back in 2011. However, BMC has now given them an extension of two months to get the UID card and have paid their salary for the month of December 2012.

– The revenue department experimented with mandating UID number or an enrollment slip for availing any of the 20 services offered by the revenue department.

– The Bombay High Court had suggested to the state government to consider linking ration cards with Aadhaar cards to tackle the menace of bogus and duplicate ration cards.

– The Ministry of External Affairs had advised all Passport Issuing Authorities to accept Aadhaar letter as Proof of Address and Photo identity. The ministry hopes this will makes passport documentation less cumbersome.

– Maharashtra government had planned to launch the Aadhaar-linked liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidy project in Mumbai.

The Aadhaar scheme was launched in the hope of eliminating those who are undeserving of the subsidies. Various state governments had launched couple of schemes such as Direct cash transfer. However, Aadhaar card poses a privacy risk as it collects biometric data. If this data is compromised somehow, which by the way is not that difficult these days, there’s no way citizens could do anything to change it. Biometric data is not like a password, where you can change it if it’s compromised.

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