National

Supreme Court finds govt. defying its order on Aadhaar

Plea against govt. order making it mandatory for scholarship schemes.

The Centre was caught red-handed defying a Supreme Court order directing that no citizen will be denied benefits under a government scheme for want of an Aadhaar card.

A Bench of Justices Gopala V. Gowda and A.K. Goel discovered that the Centre had been insisting that students submit their Aadhaar number for applying for government scholarship schemes.

On October 15, 2015, a Constitution Bench led by then Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu had held that citizens cannot be forced to produce his Aadhaar to avail themselves of government welfare schemes and benefits.

It had even hinted that the government risked contempt of court if it chooses to continue to make the Aadhaar number a mandatory condition. But the government seemed to have ignored the court’s warning in this case. A petition filed by the All-Bengal Minority Students Council clearly exposed the defiance.

The petition pointed to a letter addressed by the Centre to States and Union Territories to make Aadhaar a mandatory condition for applying for pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means scholarship schemes. The letter, dated July 14, 2016, plainly directed that “submission of Aadhaar is mandatory” for students.

Staying the implementation of the letter recently, the court directed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to remove Aadhaar as a mandatory condition for student registration from its national scholarship portal.

It stayed the instruction insisting on Aadhaar from government advertisements for the scholarship schemes.

On October 15 last year, the Constitution Bench had extended the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), pensions schemes, Employee Provident Fund and the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana.

The Bench was modifying an August 2015 order restricting Aadhaar use to only PDS and LPG distribution.

The Constitution Bench had directed that the voluntary nature of Aadhaar would continue now.

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