The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to immediately withdraw all notifications making Aadhaar cards mandatory for availing benefits under social security schemes.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and J. Chelameswar told Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran that despite the earlier order directing the Centre not to insist on Aadhaar cards, there were several complaints that the authorities were insisting on Aadhaar cards for providing benefits.
Justice Chauhan told the S-G: “I have received a lot of letters which say that Aadhaar card is mandatory despite court orders. We had already passed orders saying no one should suffer for not having Aadhaar card. How can you insist on Aadhaar card. If there are any instructions that Aadhaar is mandatory, it should be withdrawn immediately.”
The Bench also stayed a Bombay High Court order, which refused to interfere with an order passed by a lower court in Goa, directing the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to share with the CBI biometrics and other relevant data of all residents enrolled with Aadhaar in the State to help solve the case of a gang-rape of a seven-year-old girl.
The Bench restrained the UIDAI from sharing biometric or any other data of the Aadhaar card holder with any agency without the express consent of the card holder. The Bench also directed the Centre not to deprive any citizen of any benefit because he doesn't possess an Aadhaar card.
In its petition seeking a stay of the High Court order, the UIDAI said “the High Court order would set a bad precedent, besides opening the floodgates of similar requests by various investigative agencies/police.”
It said “60 crore residents have enrolled themselves for Aadhaar card by providing their demographic and biometric information for civilian application only and sharing the data would endanger the fundamental rights of the citizens.”
The Bench said “biometric data cannot be shared without the consent of the resident and as per its current data-sharing policy and guidelines. The right to privacy is one of the basic human right of an individual and the UIDAI is committed to protect this aspect.”