Use Aadhaar card only for LPG, PDS subsidies for now, SC tells GoI

SRINAGAR: The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday refused to stay its earlier order preventing the use of the Aadhaar Card to pass on the benefits of various government schemes.
According to the media reports, the apex court maintained that the Aadhaar card could for now only be used for disbursing the subsidies for LPG and the public distribution system (PDS), till a constitution bench hears a petition on whether privacy is a fundamental right.
A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, which had already referred the batch of pleas challenging the Aadhaar scheme on the question of right to privacy, made it clear that all applications seeking “modification, clarification and relaxation” of its August 11 interim order will be heard by the constitution bench itself, the reports said.
“We are of the opinion that it is better that these applications for modification are also heard by a larger bench,” the three-judge bench, which also comprised Justices S A Bobde and C Nagappan, was quoted as saying by New Delhi-based Zee News.
On August 11, the apex court had said that Aadhar card will remain optional for availing welfare schemes of the government and the authorities will not use it for the purposes other than PDS and LPG distribution system.
The government of India (GoI) and other bodies including the Reserve Bank of India and commercial banks have been pressing the court to allow Aadhaar cards to be used as identity proof for financial, telecom and stock market services.
The court had called this proposal into question while hearing a petition filed by activists and NGOs. The petition contends that registering for an Aadhaar card violated individual privacy by collecting biometric data such as fingerprints and iris scans.
It argued that privacy is a fundamental right, and that the Aadhaar registration process violates it.
GoI, however, countered that privacy is not a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution.
On Tuesday, its Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had argued that the choice of giving up his or her privacy in registering for an Aadhaar card.
Last month, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had referred the question of whether privacy is a fundamental right to a five-judge constitution bench.
The three-judge bench agreed with the GoI that the right to privacy was vague.