On Aadhaar, the UPA has decided to take on the Supreme Court as well as the Opposition. The government on Tuesday defended Aadhaar before the Supreme Court asking for relief from the interim orders. It has decided to argue that the judiciary has encroached upon its executive decision-making space with the order. In parallel, the Union Cabinet cleared the National Identification Authority of India Bill on Tuesday, rejecting all key reservations of the Parliament Standing Committee which had studied the original 2010 version of the bill.
The standing committee had made scathing comments on the bill as well as the functioning of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) without a parliamentary mandate.On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided not to alter its interim orders on Aadhaar as pleaded by the government and oil PSUs. The order had put critical restrictions against the use and distribution of the unique identity numbers. But the government has prepared a brief to fight it out aggressively in the court claiming that the court orders are impinging on the powers of the executive, which includes the right to make the identity numbers mandatory for the government’s targeted social schemes, if it so wishes.
In a move that is designed to also provide more solid grounds for the government to continue with its policy on Aadhaar, the Union Cabinet approved the bill it had earlier sent to Parliament with just a few amendments even as it endorsed the position that the current model, policy and processes of the UID are foolproof, adequate and legally sound.
If the two-pronged attack works and the government is able to get a nod for the bill in the winter session of Parliament, it could secure a legal mandate of the UIDAI that has been lacking so far and quell dissent and litigation.
With the court agreeing to hold an early final hearing in the case on October 22, the government plans to make the case that there is no credible proof of a wide-scale denial of benefits to people without Aadhaar numbers. The government will claim there are only some…