The Supreme Court has ruled that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory for people to get government services

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily on Wednesday announced that Aadhaar would not be mandatory for one to avail oneself of the subsidy given for nine domestic cylinders under the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme, till it was cleared by the Supreme Court or through legislative authorisation.

“Aadhaar is only an identification card. We will not make it mandatory unless the Supreme Court gives clearance,” Mr. Moily told reporters here.

The Ministry had unveiled the scheme in 97 districts and planned to extend it to almost 265 districts by January 1, under which all consumers in these districts had to get their bank accounts linked with their Aadhaar number to avail themselves of the subsidy. The Aadhaar platform, which provides a resident a 12-digit unique number after recording bio-metric information like fingerprints and iris, is being used to implement the cash transfer scheme.

But the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory for people to get government services and nobody should be deprived of any such facilities for want of the card. It also rejected the review petition filed by the government on this issue.

Direct cash transfer for LPG began on June 1 in 19 districts. The government gave a three-month grace period to enable consumers to get the Aadhaar card and link it with their bank accounts. After the expiry of this period, according to the government, cash subsidy would be provided only to consumers who had Aadhaar cards.

The Ministry has been betting big on the scheme as it had been able to plug leakages and diversion of subsidised LPG cylinders in the open market.

A close scrutiny of the 50 lakh consumers in the 19 districts under Phase-1 revealed that as many as 45,000 consumers had two subsidised LPG gas connections in different names and addresses from different companies but had one Aadhaar number.

Interestingly, Mr. Moily travelled in a Metro train from his Tughlak Road residence to his Shastri Bhavan office in a bid to spread awareness of fuel conservation.

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