New Delhi: Raising its pitch on benefits of Aadhaar card, the Centre on Tuesday argued in the Supreme Court that Aadhaar cards were useful for providing social benefits to the weaker sections of society. A poor starving man would have no second thoughts about shedding his privacy rights to enrol for Aadhaar so that it gets him a square meal and earnings, the Centre claimed vociferously.
Appearing for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi pleaded for lifting the bar on use of Aadhaar for various welfare schemes. On this, the Bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde and C Nagappan said, “Just because somebody is poor and starving, should he not have his privacy?”
The Bench later reserved its order for Wednesday on the pleas for relaxation, modification and clarification of its interim order filed by the UIDAI, RBI, SEBI, IRDA, TRAI, PFRDA and states such as Gujarat and Jharkhand.
“Since the court had said that Aadhaar was not mandatory, there should not be any problem in allowing it to be used on voluntarily basis to establish the identity of persons to make available the benefits of schemes,” the AG said.
“Can you speak for 100 crore people? If a person has a problem with using Aadhaar, don’t use it. People, who survive on daily wages, people who don’t have food to eat need a foolproof mechanism like Aadhaar. But here you are speaking of apprehensions of a few on privacy rights, you are not speaking for the country,” Rohatgi countered.
Appearing for NGO Centre for Civil Society, Venugopal said for a poor person and a widow, it is an option to choose between right to privacy and benefits of welfare schemes. Senior advocates Shyam Divan and Meenakshi Arora objected to the pleas for modification of the interim order saying the matter has been referred to a Constitution Bench.
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