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Why are states still insisting on Aadhaar card, asks SC

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took exception to the fact that despite its ruling that governments should not insist on the possession of Aadhaar card for the disbursal of benefits under the social welfare schemes, there were states that were flouting its order.

A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice S.A.Bobde, and Justice C. Nagappan expressed its concern over states acting in breach of its interim order passed in September 2013 and reiterated in March this year in this regard.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Chelameswar pointed to the court’s earlier order asking the central and state governments and their agencies not to link the disbursal of benefits under various social welfare schemes with Aadhaar card.

“Notwithstanding the earlier interim order, some of the states are still insisting on Aadhaar card,” he observed, citing certain reports in the newspapers.

At this, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said: “As far as we are concerned, we had made it clear not to insist on Aadhaar card for any official work.” He said he would get back to the court after checking with the authorities.

In its September 23, 2013 order, the court said: “No person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.”

The court’s concern over the breach of its interim order came as it commenced hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar card and describing government insistence on possessing it as being “coercive” and violating the right to privacy.

Meanwhile, the central government on Tuesday told the court that it was difficult to roll back the scheme which was integral to government’s efforts to eradicate poverty as it sought the hearing of challenge to the Aadhaar scheme by a constitution bench of five judges.

Rohatgi told the court that about Rs.5,000 crore have been spent on the unique identification scheme and the social welfare programs and subsidy schemes are linked to Aadhaar card.

Telling the court that about 80 crore people in the country have been covered under the Aadhaar program, he said that any scrapping of the scheme would adversely affect the government efforts to eradicate poverty.

The position found support of the senior counsel K.K.Venugopal – who appearing for Centre for Civil Society – referred to several judgments backing the plea for referring challenge to Aadhaar scheme to the constitution bench.

The court asked Rohatgi to look into the judgments being referred to by Venugopal and address the court on Wednesday morning on the plea to refer the matter to the constitution bench.

The court is hearing a batch of petitions including one by Karnataka High Court’s Justice (Retd.) K.S. Puttaswamy who had moved the court in 2012, contending that the entire Aadhaar scheme was unconstitutional as the biometric data collected under it was an incursion and transgression of individual privacy.

(IANS)

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Novel Coronavirus: Government Deploys Health Team on Nepal Border

Many Indian students studying in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak have been stuck there

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Coronavirus
The Coronavirus outbreak, which has so far caused 41 deaths in China, and caused the country to quarantine 16 cities, is causing comparisons to the 2003 spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which decreased the value of the global economy by $40 billion. VOA

In the wake of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Nepal, the Union Health Ministry has subsequently strengthened its vigil in the areas bordering Nepal.

The recent deployment of health team has taken place at Panitanki in West Bengal, entry point from Nepal, said the Health Ministry on Monday.

“Update on #ncov2020 – Subsequent to confirmed #coronarvirus case in #Nepal, vigil strengthened at Panitanki (West Bengal) entry point from Nepal,” the ministry tweeted.

Earlier on Sunday the ministry had informed that in response to confirmed case of the new virus in the neighbourhood country Nepal, India stepped up vigil in districts bordering Nepal. The health ministry said that teams of medical experts were also deployed at border outpost with Nepal at Jhulaghat and Jauljibi in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.

Coronavirus
Southeast Asia’s proximity to China and dependence on that nation for a major share of its economy is raising concerns that the coronavirus outbreak  that started there will not only have health impacts but harm the region’s economies. VOA

In continuation of its efforts to stop the virus from entering in India and making the passengers aware, the ministry has also displayed signage advising the passengers for self reporting and other precautions, disseminated through advisories, at the Mumbai airport.

According to the health ministry, a total of 29,707 passengers from 137 flights have been screened. Fortunately, no case of coronavirus has been found till date.

Also Read: Patients May Suffer Invasive Treatments for Harmless Cancers: Researchers

According to the announcement made by Chinese health authorities on Monday, 2,744 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), including 461 in critical condition and a total of 5,794 suspected cases have also been reported. The killer virus has caused 80 deaths in China, as per Chinese authorities.

Many Indian students studying in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak have been stuck there. The health ministry said it is working closely with the Ministry of External Affairs and is in touch with the students. (IANS)