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Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory for welfare benefits: SC

However, government and its agencies cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar cards for certain non-welfare schemes such as opening of bank accounts

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New Delhi, March 27, 2017: It was made clear by the Supreme Court today made it clear that the government cannot make Aadhaar cards mandatory as well as its agencies for extending benefits of social welfare schemes.

However, a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, stated that government and its agencies cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar cards for certain non-welfare schemes such as opening of bank accounts.

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The bench also mentioned that a seven-judge bench needed to be formed for authoritatively looking into a batch of petitions that challenge the Aadhaar scheme on grounds including that it infringes on the Right to Privacy of citizens.

However, the inability in setting up of the seven-judge bench was expressed saying the decision will be made at a later stage.

It was alleged by senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for one of the petitioners that the Central government is not following the various orders that the apex court has passed regarding the fact that the usage of Aadhaar would be voluntary and not mandatory.

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On August 11, 2015, the apex court had stated that Aadhaar card will not be mandatory for availing benefits of the welfare schemes of the government and prohibited the authorities from sharing personal bio-metric data collected for enrollment under the scheme.

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However, on October 15, 2015 its earlier restriction had been lifted and the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes was permitted that included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Another Deadline Missed, No Draft Scheme on the Cauvery Dispute Till Now

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme.

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The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia commons

The Centre yet again failed to submit a draft Scheme on the Cauvery river water dispute before the Supreme Court on the ground that the Prime Minister and other ministers were campaigning in Karnataka, which Tamil Nadu flayed as “brazen partisanship”.

Seeking 10 more days to finalize the scheme, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud: “A draft scheme has been placed before the Cabinet. Because of Karnataka elections, the Prime Minister and all other Ministers are in Karnataka. Before that the Prime Minister was abroad (in China).”

It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Parliament of India, wikimedia commons

The Centre’s submission was countered strongly by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said: “Sorry to say, the Central government is politicizing the issue. They are worried about their electoral fate in Karnataka. Election in Karnataka is on May 12 and somehow they don’t want to do it till then. We have enough of it. It is brazen partisanship of the Union of India. It is the end of co-operative federalism.”

The apex court in its February 16 judgement had directed the Centre to frame a Scheme within six months in accordance with the recommendation by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), which Karnataka opposes strongly.

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme. Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition against the Centre for failure to act within the deadline.

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During Thursday’s hearing, the court directed the Karnataka government to respond on how much of the four TMC of water it can release by month end. It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

In the course of the hearing, the court asked Karnataka to release 4 TMC of water by Monday.

The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on Tuesday. (IANS)