The Supreme Court on Tuesday posted for final hearing on October 22 a batch of petitions and applications filed by the Union government and oil companies seeking a modification of the interim order that restrained the government from making the Aadhaar card mandatory for transfer of social welfare benefits to beneficiaries.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde decided to post all matters for final hearing, after Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati and Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran pleaded for modifying the interim order, passed on September 23.
The interim order said, “In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory, and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.”
The Attorney-General drew the attention of the court to lift the stay, stating that gas cylinders were being distributed on a highly subsidised rate amounting to Rs. 40,000 crores.
Mr. Vahanvati clarified that retail consumers would not require the Aadhaar card to purchase LPG cylinders from oil marketing companies at market prices. Only those seeking subsidy on supply of market price cylinders (up to nine cylinders per annum) were required to mandatorily obtain an Aadhaar card, and produce the same in order to avail of the subsidy.
The card was the only foolproof mechanism for Direct Benefit Transfer of the subsidy amount.
Mr. Parasaran pointed out that another Bench of the apex court in the matter relating to food subsidy had directed that computerisation be linked to the Aadhar card for transfer of food subsidy.
Senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for main petitioner Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, opposed the modification of the interim order. He said the petitioner would have to file a reply to the Centre’s application.