Srinagar: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the high court, challenging the governor administration’s order making Aadhaar card mandatory for drawing various entitlements such as employees’ salaries.
Petitioner advocate Syed Musaib has contended that the government’s February 10 order was arbitrary and against the Supreme Court directions.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number issued by the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), a government of India agency which was established by the Planning Commission in 2009.
Last year, the apex court passed an order, saying that the government cannot deny a service to anyone who does not possess Aadhaar, as it is voluntary.
Hearing a plea claiming that the project lacked legislation backing, the apex court had asked the Modi-led government to clarify its stance on the Aadhaar. The government had filed a reply, stating it will continue the project and requested the apex court to revoke its earlier order.
In return, the Supreme Court directed the government to widely publicize in print and electronic media that Aadhaar is not mandatory for any welfare scheme, Musaib says.
“The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen; the Aadhaar card will not be used by the government for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of food grains, etc, and cooking fuel, such as kerosene or the LPG distribution scheme,” the apex court had said.
The highest court also referred the petitions to a Constitutional Bench for deciding the issue of right of privacy, whether it forms part of fundamental rights or not.
Even as the issue is pending before the apex court, Musaib said, the state government on February 10 issued the order asking the employees, pensioners and others to register themselves in the Aadhaar Based Biometric System, else they won’t be able to draw legal entitlements from April this year.
Musaib has also contended that there is only 46.9% Aadhaar enrollment in the state, the lowest in India.
He said the government order suffers from infirmity with respect to the Constitution as people in the state are forced to disclose private information under the cloak of Aadhaar scheme.
Accordingly, the petitioner has sought directions from the court to quash the February 10 order (no: 35-F of 2016) and direct the administration that Aadhaar card should not be made mandatory for any benefits due to a citizen.
The Chief Justice of the high court will decide the fate of the petition as it would be listed before a bench only after its approval.