Feb 25: The State High Court has stayed the Government order regarding possession of Aadhaar Card for Government employees and pensioners being compulsory for drawing of salaries and pensions.
The Division Bench of Justice MH Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey while hearing Public Interest Litigation stayed the operation of Government (Order no. 35 of 2016 dated 10.2.2016) with the observation that the Supreme Court has already observed that Aadhaar Card is purely voluntary and not mandatory.
Court while staying the order said that “prima facie, it appears that Government order no. 35 of 2016 dated 10.2.2016 has made possession of Aadhaar Card mandatory”.
Court also issued notice to Government to show cause as to why the ‘Rule is not made absolute’ and further sought response from the Government to the contentions raised in the PIL.
Supreme Court has already (in its order on 15.10.2015) observed that Adhaar Card is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is decided by the Supreme Court one way or the other.
The PIL has been filed by one Syed Musaib challenging the Government order wherein Aadhaar Card has been made mandatory.
According to the petitioner, the order is arbitrary, capricious and unlawful order and in clear contravention of the order of the Supreme Court.
The UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) as per the petitioner a Central Government agency of India was established in 2009 after the Planning Commission of India issued a notification. UIDAI’s basic objective was to collect the biometric and demographic data of residents and to store them in a centralized database, and issue a 12-digit unique identity number called Aadhaar.
In December 2011, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, led by Yashwant Sinha, rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 in its then present form and termed the project as “unethical and violative of Parliament’s prerogatives”.
“That a Public Interest Litigation was filed against the Government in the Supreme Court and in that PIL Petitioners contended that the Government was implementing the project without any legislative backing. The Supreme Court passed an interim order saying that the Government cannot deny a service to anyone who does not possess Aadhaar, as it is voluntary”, reads the PIL.
In February-2015 the Supreme Court asked the new Government to clarify its stance on the Aadhaar project. This was in response to a new PIL filed by a former Army officer, who had claimed that Government was ignoring previous orders while pushing ahead with the project and that the project was unconstitutional as it allowed profiling of citizens.
“The Government in a reply said that it will continue the project and requested the Supreme Court to revoke its order, saying that it intends to use Aadhaar for various services”, petitioner submits.
“In return the Supreme Court directed the Government to widely publicize in print and electronic media that Aadhaar is not mandatory for any welfare scheme. The Court also referred the petitions claiming Aadhaar scheme being unconstitutional, to a Constitutional Bench for deciding the issue of Right of Privacy, whether it form part of fundamental rights or not”, petitioner says in his petition.
Recently (on 10.02.2016) Government issued the order saying that Government employees, Pensioners and various other people who are drawing their legal entitlements from the Government have to get themselves enrolled in Aadhaar system to be able to draw their entitlements.
Petitioner seeks direction quashing and setting aside the Government order no: 35-F of 2016, dated 10.02.2016 from the court and further prays that Aadhaar Card should not be made mandatory for any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.