Dealing a body blow to the UPA-II’s ambitious Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project, the Supreme Court on Monday said Aadhaar cards are not mandatory for availing government services such as domestic cooking gas, food subsidy, marriage certificates, salary reimbursements and other services.
The SC order comes after the parliamentary standing committee on finance rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill that would have given legal backing to the Aadhaar project. The government has been under attack for going ahead with the project without any statutory backing.
UIDAI, headed by the former Infosys chief, Nandan Nilekani, has so far issued 40.29 crore Aadhaar cards. The government was targeting a number of 60 crore cards by 2014.
The home ministry had also raised concerns on Aadhaar’s biometric data collection and verification methods stating that they do not meet security criteria. Besides, there has been a turf war with the Home Ministry’s National Population Register which too has been documenting photographs, fingerprints and iris scan of all citizens.
The court’s directions came after a former judge of the Karnataka High Court, KS Puttaswamy, filed a PIL alleging that the government was bypassing parliament by going ahead with the distribution of UID numbers and cards.
The Supreme Court told the Centre not to make the Unique Identification Card mandatory for availing government schemes.
The court said that the identification card could not be mandatory for states to provide services either.