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No SC Stay On 'Aadhaar For Social Benefits'; Centre Extends Deadline Till Sept 30

LiveLaw News Network
27 Jun 2017 7:43 AM GMT
No SC Stay On Aadhaar For Social Benefits; Centre Extends Deadline Till Sept 30
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the government notification which mandated furnishing of Aadhaar cards from July 1 to avail benefits of 17 social schemes, including scholarships, right to food and mid-day meals.This was after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, submitted that the cut-off date for those who do not possess the card has been...

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the government notification which mandated furnishing of Aadhaar cards from July 1 to avail benefits of 17 social schemes, including scholarships, right to food and mid-day meals.

This was after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, submitted that the cut-off date for those who do not possess the card has been extended till September 30 and they could avail the benefits till then by furnishing alternate ID proof like voter ID card, driving licence or PAN card.

"The Centre itself is saying nobody will be deprived of benefits. Heavens will not fall if we do not stay the notification. Such interim orders cannot be passed on mere apprehensions that somebody will be deprived of benefits. Show us some case and then we can do something about it," a bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha told senior counsel Shyam Divan, who had requested for an interim stay until the apex court’s final verdict on the constitutionality of Aadhaar to be heard by a constitution bench.

Divan kept arguing that showing of Aadhaar cards and subjecting to the scheme should be voluntary and not mandatory and its furnishing cannot be compelled.

He said this aspect would be argued in detail at a later stage.

THE ORDER

"The petitioners seek a clarification that facilities, which were provided under social benefit schemes, will continue for even those who do not possess an Aadhaar card. Ld ASG says no such clarification is required as cut-off date is extended till September 30 for those not possessing Aadhaar cards. Let the matter now be listed on July 7 before appropriate bench,” the court said.

BACKGROUND

The petitioners had urged the top court to hear their plea before Jun. 30, the Centre’s earlier deadline for providing Aadhaar details in order to receive subsidies.

There is "no question" of extending the Jun. 30 deadline for making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes, the Centre had earlier told the Supreme Court.
Then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had told the top court that the idea behind making Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes was that the benefit should not go to "ghosts" as was noticed in schemes like the public distribution system.

He also raised preliminary objection to the plea seeking interim relief and challenging various notifications issued by the Centre and told the same bench that this matter should be listed for hearing before a five-judge constitution bench.

Rohatgi had said earlier some pleas seeking identical interim reliefs were also filed and those matters were pending before the top court.

Senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, had told the court that despite its repeated orders saying Aadhaar is voluntary, the Centre had released several notifications making it mandatory for schemes such as scholarships, Right to Food and mid-day meals in schools.

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