By Shashank JhaThe Indian Supreme Court has said the Aadhaar card is mandatory for obtaining subsidies and is therefore part of the Constitution.
The government had argued that it is not mandatory, and its data collection scheme, Aadhaar, is not a part of it.
But the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that was not correct.
The court said the Supreme Bank of India has to take care of the “non-biometric” transactions.
The ruling also means that the government can use Aadhaar to access financial information for a limited number of beneficiaries who cannot get a bank account or who have not obtained Aadhaar for a year.
It also means the government may now have to give up its use of Aadhaar to avoid the court ruling, which will have immediate implications for its efforts to implement the government’s controversial Goods and Services Tax.
The Supreme Court’s move came after the Centre had asked the court to rule on the validity of the Aadhaar program in December last year.
Aadhaar was first introduced as a means of authentication to help the government collect subsidies.
In 2014, the Supreme Judicial Council ruled that the Aadhaar system is a “validity test”.
The court in December 2016 ruled that, under Section 21 of the constitution, the central government can no longer use Aadhaar for purposes other than the purpose for which it was introduced.
“The Aadhaar Act, 2014, provides for the mandatory identification of all persons for the purposes of payment of taxes, subsidies, ration and similar items.
In view of the provisions of the Act, the requirement to furnish Aadhaar shall be a valid part of our constitution,” it said.
The apex court had also ordered the government to provide a legal opinion on the use of the information.
However, in a major setback to the government, the government later said it will not use Aadhaar if it fails to comply with the court’s order.
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