UIDAI moves Supreme Court on Aadhaar card

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Supreme Court

New Delhi: Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has joined government and public sector unit (PSU) oil firms against the Supreme Court order making Aadhaar card not mandatory for availing social benefits saying, its directive has “very serious implications” in implementation of welfare schemes.

The UIDAI also contended that its order dated 23 September, putting the onus on it to check that Aadhaar card should not be given to illegal immigrants, impinges on the jurisdiction of the appropriate authorities that are entrusted with the task of verifying citizenship.

In an application before the Supreme Court, the UIDAI submitted that Aadhaar is stated to be a proof of identity and there are other agencies to perform the task of verifying citizenship and detecting illegal immigrants.

“UIDAI has been mandated to provide Aadhaar to resident of India as a matter of conscious policy decision of government. Aadhaar is upfront stated to be a proof of identity, not citizenship. It may be mentioned the government has specific agencies to perform the task of verifying citizenship and detecting illegal immigrants,” it said.

“The interim order of the court in directing UIDAI to check the citizenship status of a person applying for Aadhaar and identifying illegal immigrants impinges on the jurisdiction of the appropriate authorities under law that are entrusted with this task,” it said while pleading with the court to modify the interim order against which Centre and oil PSUs have already approached the apex court.

The UIDAI said it is following a sound verification method for enrolment for Aadhaar and there is no proof that it has opened the “floodgates for entry of illegal migrants into the system”.

“Having enrolled over 53 crore residents, there is no empirical proof to suggest that the adopted methodology is not robust and has opened the floodgates for entry of illegal migrants into the system. Exceptions, aberrations and anecdotal cases cannot be reasons to doubt, malign or undo government schemes and administrative measures manifestly serving desired public policy ends,“ said the UIDAI application.

The apex court had on 23 September said, “In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite 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 order had come during the hearing of a PIL filed by justice K. Puttaswamy, former high court judge, seeking to restrain the Centre, Planning Commission and UIDAI from issuing Aadhaar cards by way of an executive order of 28 January 2009.

Citing various benefits of the Aadhaar card, the UIDAI submitted that “as part of its pro-poor approach the UIDAI focuses on enrolling India’s poor and under privileged community for many of whom Aadhaar may be the first form of identification but no one gets enrolled for Aadhaar without undergoing the prescribed method of verification.”

It said that as on 30 September, more than 53 crore residents have enrolled for Aadhaar and an amount of Rs3,494 crore has been incurred on the programme by the Centre and oil marketing companies have detected around 45,000 duplicate LPG connections on the basis of Aadhaar numbers which would save the exchequer around Rs23 crore per annum.

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