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NEW DELHI:  A five-judge constitution bench today heared the pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s decision directing mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various government schemes and welfare measures. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said that the larger bench will sit at 2 pm today to take up the interlocutory applications seeking interim relief against the Centre’s decision on linking of Aadhaar with various schemes. The Centre had on December 7 told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail various services and welfare schemes would shortly be extended till March 31 next year. The Supreme Court will pass the interim orders tomorrow. Supreme Court to pass interim orders tomorrow on Aadhaar.

Aadhaar has been made mandatory for bank accounts and welfare schemes in violation of an earlier order of the Supreme Court that called it voluntary, petitioners opposing the  government move told a five-judge bench of the top court today. Instead of making it mandatory for six schemes, as ordered by the court, the government had extended it to 139, said the petitioners, who have challenged the validity of the 12-digit Unique Identification Number in the top court. Aadhaar case hearing: 

  • The hearing of the Aadhaar case began in the morning.
  • Supreme Court’s earlier order specifically said Aadhaar is voluntary and not compulsory but Government made it mandatory.
  • As per Supreme Court orders only 6 schemes Aadhaar is mandatory but Centre extended to 139 schemes 
  • CBSE makes Aaadhaar mandatory for board exams, scholarships. UGC also makes it mandatory.
  • HIV patients are denied treatment for want of Aadhaar
  • Supreme Court said let us not go by rhetoric and hyperbole 

Arguments will resume in the afternoon . Aadhaar was set up to be a form of digital identification for all residents, originally pitched for targeted delivery of benefits to the poor.

  • Over a billion Indians have already registered for Aadhaar cards, which ascribe unique ID numbers, and record fingerprints and iris scans of each person.
  • An Aadhaar law pushed through parliament last year gives the government power to make it mandatory to access any service including train and bus travel.
  • There have been worries that this would make it very easy for the government to invade the privacy of the enrolled population.
  • The central government had earlier attempted to convince the court not to interfere with its deadlines, promising to extend it for another three months till 31 March 2018 for those who do not have Aadhaar.
  • In August, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • The judges asked the government to introduce legislation and measures to ensure that data is protected.
  • The centre says that the 12-digit unique ID or Aadhaar assigned to citizens is a must for government services, filing returns, financial transactions and mobile phones services..

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