New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and all the states to "adhere to" its earlier order that no person should be denied any benefits or "suffer" for not having Aadhar cards, issued by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
"In the meantime, it has been brought to the notice that the Aadhar identification (card) is being insisted upon by various authorities. We are not going into the specific instances... "We expect that the Union of India (UOI) and states and all their functionaries shall adhere to the order dated September 23, 2013," a three-judge bench headed by Justice Chelameswar said.
The bench had earlier said, "no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory...". At the outset, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, who appeared for one of the petitioners, said that despite the court order, authorities are insisting upon Aadhar cards for the purposes of lease deed and marriage registrations and it is a matter of "serious concern".
"Instances have come to our notice also," the bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde and C Nagappan, said and asked Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, to ensure that authorities adhere to its earlier order. "There is no excuse for you (SG)," it said. The SG responded by saying that the Centre will be writing to all the Chief Secretaries of states in this regard.
The Solicitor General later told the court that as all the states are party, they can be asked to ensure that the order is followed and their officials like District Magistrates are informed about it. During the hearing, the bench said that even judges of the Bombay High Court, as per a circular, were told to provide Aadhar number to authorities. However, one of the lawyers said that that issue is now over.
The bench, hearing a batch of pleas against decisions of some states to make Aadhar cards compulsory for a range of activities including salary, PF disbursals and marriage and property registrations, has now posted the matters for final hearing in the second week of July.
The court on Monday also told Subramaniam that he can file an interim plea alleging violation of the order by citing a specific case. "The general order of this nature will not do" and "we will deal with particular case to ensure compliance", it said. Earlier, the court had said Aadhar will not be mandatory and a person, who does not have Aadhar, should not suffer in availing of government benefits and services like gas connections, vehicle registration, scholarships, marriage registration and provident fund.
It had asked the Centre not to issue Aadhar cards to illegal immigrants as it would legitimise their stay. "The scheme is complete infraction of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). The government claims that the scheme is voluntary but it is not so.
"Aadhar is being made mandatory for purposes like registration of marriages and others. Maharashtra government has recently said no marriage will be registered if parties don't have Aadhar cards," senior advocate Anil Divan, arguing for Justice (retd) KS Puttaswamy, former judge of Karnataka High Court who has filed one of the PILs, said.
Justice Puttaswamy, in his PIL, has also sought a stay on the implementation of the scheme. Making Aadhar mandatory for various purposes raises questions over the government's authority to implement such types of the scheme, the plea had said, adding it also highlighted "the perils of the manner of its implementation".
The Centre had said the consent of an individual was indispensable for Aadhar and it has been launched to "promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof."