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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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US: Supreme Court Blocks Administration’s Effort to Add Citizenship Question on Census

The citizenship question was meant to better enforce the Voting Rights Act

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US, Supreme Court, Citizenship
FILE - Demonstrators protest during a Fair Maps rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump responded Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to block his administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the upcoming U.S. census by saying he’d asked his lawyers whether there was a way to delay the nationwide head count.

In a tweet hours after the court announced its decision, Trump said it “seems totally ridiculous” that the government could not question people about their citizenship on the census, which takes place once every 10 years.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration’s explanation — that the citizenship question was meant to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — was “more of a distraction” from the issue than an explanation.

Opponents of the citizenship question say it would intimidate noncitizens into not answering the census, ultimately leaving them underrepresented in Congress.

US, Supreme Court, Citizenship
U.S. President Donald Trump responded Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to block his administration’s effort. Pixabay

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal justices in the 5-4 ruling.

 The nation’s highest court also announced Thursday that it was rejecting a request to intervene in states’ redistricting efforts.  Redrawing the boundaries of voting districts is meant to ensure proportional representation in state legislatures as the population grows and changes locations.

Republicans in the state of North Carolina and Democrats in the state of Maryland have been accused of redrawing the lines of voting districts to keep power in the hands of the ruling party.

The chief justices said manipulation of the electoral map, a practice known colloquially as gerrymandering, is a problem for state governments to solve, not the Supreme Court.

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Thursday was the final day of rulings by the Supreme Court before its summer break. (VOA)