NEW DELHI, September 23: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Aadhar cards are not mandatory even as various state governments insist on 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 BS Chauhan and SA Bobde said, "The Centre and state governments must not insist on Aadhar cards from citizens before providing them essential services."
The apex court also directed the central and the state governments not to issue the Aadhar cards to illegal immigrants.
The apex court, while trashing the Centre's claim of Rs 50,000 crore expenses on the UIDAI project, said that Aadhar card is not necessary for important services.
The apex court passed the order in response to a PIL pleading it to examine the "voluntary" nature of the Aadhaar cards. The PIL was filed by Justice KS Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court recently.
In the PIL the petitioner had also sought 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," the petitioner said.
The petitioner asserted that the issue 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 his arguments and agreed to hear his contentions on the interim stay as well on Sep 23 while asking the centre and state governments to file their replies.
In its reply, the Centre had earlier 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.