The Supreme Court Monday set out to examine the “voluntary” nature of the Aadhaar cards even as various states embarked upon making it compulsory for a range of formalities, including marriage registration, disbursal of salaries and provident fund among other public services.
A Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde asked all the parties to file their responses to the petitions, challenging the legal validity of the Aadhaar scheme of the Unique Identification Authority of India, and settled the matter for final hearing after two weeks.
Senior advocate Anil Divan, arguing for the PIL filed by Justice K S Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, urged the court to also hear him on the interim application for an immediate stay on the implementation of the scheme.
“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. Aadhaar 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 Aadhaar cards,” he said.
Divan asserted that the issues required a meticulous judicial examination by the Bench since it raised questions not only over the government’s authority to implement the scheme, but also highlighted the perils of the manner of its implementation. The Bench accepted Divan’s arguments and agreed to hear his contentions on the interim stay as well on the next date while saying that the pleadings should be completed by then.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General L N Rao sought transfer of two similar matters from Bombay and Chennai High Courts. The court allowed his plea and tagged the two petitions with the current PIL.
In its reply, the Centre claimed that for an Aadhaar card, consent of an individual was indispensable and hence it was a voluntary project, with an objective to promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof.