The Supreme Court of India has said that Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and cannot be made mandatory for scholarships, reports The Wire. The court essentially reaffirmed its October 2015 order which said that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for government subsidies and services.
The Supreme Court was responding to a petition by All Bengal Minority Students Council earlier this month which challenged the Union government’s rule which required all minority students to sign up with Aadhaar for scholarships. The petition said that this ran contrary to the court’s earlier judgement.
In July, government has notified the Aadhaar Act 2016, which would make it mandatory for people to acquire an Aadhaar card to avail financial subsidies and benefits. This operationalized the Act and give it a legal framework for the issuance and use of the Aadhaar.
The Aadhaar Act was passed in Parliament in March as a money bill which bypassed voting in the Rajya Sabha. A money bill exclusively contains provisions for imposition and abolition of taxes, for appropriation of moneys out of a consolidated fund.
Note to all ministries
Earlier this month, the Economic Times reported that UIDAI wrote to all ministries and states which said that Aadhaar will be mandatory for all state benefits and subsidies. The UIDAI also wrote that a person will not be denied benefits if they do not have an Aadhaar but the programme will have to immediately enrol the person into the list. The respective ministry or state government will be responsible for the same.
Around the same time, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that most concerns that the Supreme Court raised were addressed or were being addressed. Prasad said that it addressed the SC’s concern that Aadhaar had no statuary backing by providing a legal framework and guidelines.
Earlier this month, J Satyanarayana who was the former secretary for Department of Electronics and IT was appointed as the chairperson of UIDAI. Satyanarayana replaces Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani who had earlier stepped down from the post of Chairman for UIDAI in 2014.
The government also appointed Netcore founder Rajesh Jain as a ‘part-time member’ of UIDAI, according to the report. Netcore had provided marketing services used by the BJP (which is currently in power at the center), to enroll around 105 million members. In 2013, prior to the BJP getting elected, Jain had suggested combining Voter ID card data micro-targeting of mobile marketing campaigns, and that this be done by linking a person’s existing phone number with his/her unique Voter ID.