High Court stays government order on Aadhar

Srinagar: The High Court on Wednesday stayed a government order making an Aadhar card mandatory for its employees to draw various entitlements including salary for the month of March and onwards.
Referring to Supreme Court of India’s order dated 15 October last year, a division bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey, said that the apex court has made possession of Aadhar card voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter was decided.
“Prima facie, it appears that government order (No. 35-F of 2016) has made possession of Aadhar Card mandatory,” the bench said and issued a notice to government seeking its reply to contentions made in the Public Interest Litigation that the February 10 order by Commissioner Secretary Finance was in violation of the apex court directions.
“Subject to objections and till next date before the Bench, the operation of the government order (No 35 of 2016) dated 10 February 2016 is stayed,” the division bench added. The court passed the directions after hearing petitioner advocate Syed Musaib who contended that the government’s order was arbitrary and unlawful.
Aadhar 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.
Musaib said that the apex court had rejected the Modi-led government’s request about the revocation of its earlier order and had in return directed it to widely publicise in print and electronic media that Aadhar is not mandatory for any welfare scheme.
The highest court has also referred the petitions, challenging possession of Aadhar to be mandatory, to a Constitutional Bench for deciding the issue of right of privacy, on whether it forms a part of fundamental rights or not.
Even as the issue is pending before the apex court, Musaib said, the state government issued the order asking its employees, pensioners and others to register themselves in the Aadhar 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% Aadhar 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 the Aadhar scheme. Accordingly, the petitioner has sought directions from the High Court to quash the order and direct the administration that an Aadhar card should not be made mandatory for any benefits due to a citizen.