And in February 2009, Unique Identification Authority of India / UIDAI was founded under the Chairmanship of Mr. Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder and the co-chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited from 1981 to 2009.
The unique id card having unique number for each Indian resident would be called ‘Aadhaar Number’ and the unique id card would be called “Aadhaar Card”.
According to the Union Government of India in announcements, ‘Aadhaar Card’ is optional and NOT mandatory/compulsory.
However, some State Governments in India have started insisting on the people to get the ‘Aadhaar Card’/’Aadhaar Number’ to avail some of the concessions/subsidies and various benefits from the schemes of the State Governments Thus it has become compulsory in some states of India, for a range of activities including:
- Salary (including the salary of Judges in the State of Maharashtra)
- PF Disbursals and
- Marriage & Property Registrations.
In almost all the states in India, including Tamilnadu, the ‘LPG’ cooking gas agencies started insisting on ‘Aadhaar’ Card/Number related Savings Bank Accounts to get cooking gas refills at the subsidized price.
And even the Union Government of India insisted on the people to have ‘Aadhaar’ Card/Number for some of the schemes of the Central Government such as “Public Provident Fund” etc., apart from availing the Government’s subsidy on the ‘LPG’- Cooking gas
However, the Central Government of India and the Union Ministers continued to say that the “Aadhaar Card” is only optional and NOT mandatory/compulsory.
A ‘Retired/Former Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice K.S.Puttaswamy filed a Public Litigation Petition/PIL with the Supreme Court of India seeking a ‘Stay’ on the implementation of the “Aadhaar” Scheme.
The PIL filed with the Supreme Court of India by the petitioner submitted as follows:
- The collection of personal data of the people of India had raised doubts and
- It was in violation of the “Fundamental Rights” of the citizens to ‘Privacy’ and the Fundamental Rights under Articles 14/Right to Equality and Article 21/Right to Life and Liberty, It was also an executive act in overreach of Parliament, which is yet to grant statutory powers to “Aadhar” and
- “Aadhar” scheme has proposed to give UID numbers not only to citizens, but also illegal migrants pursuant to a scheme framed by the government through an executive order of January 28, 2009
On hearing the petition and the response to the same by the Union Government of India, the Supreme Court of India asked the Central Government of India:
- NOT TO-Make “Aadhar”-Card/Number mandatory / compulsory to get the benefit of government schemes and to avail various services of the State Governments and the Central Government.and
- NOT TO issue “Aadhar” Card/Number to the “Illegal Immigrants” residing in India.
The amount allocated and utilized for the “Aadhar” Scheme is about Rs 1,50,000 Crores, according to some sources.
While the ‘UIDAI’ has aimed at issuing the unique id cards to all the Indian residents by the year 2014, it is notable that as of September 2013, only 35% of the Indian residents have been issued with the “Aadhaar” card.
The following are the 9 States out of the total 35 states, with more than 80% of the population issued with “Aadhar”:
- Andhra Pradesh/AP,
- Himachal Pradesh,
- Chandigarh and
Consequent to the ruling of the apex court/Supreme Court of India, the real benefit out of the above cost of the huge sum of money is to be re-assessed.
As the Union Government of India has been repeatedly announcing that “Aadhar” is not Compulsory and it has so far been only optional, let us hope that the Government will not seek to review the order of the Supreme Court of India in the matter.
You may recollect that the Central Government of India, after consultations with all the major political parties, had sought a revision of the Supreme Court of India’s ruling in the matter of convicted “Law Makers”, in view of the fact that the SC’s decision will lead to complications in the State Governments and the Central Government.
However, the Supreme Court of India’s ruling on “Aadhar” Scheme may be viewed as a set-back to the Central -UPA 2- Government and some State Governments which started making obtaining the “Aadhar”-Card/Number, mandatory, directly or indirectly.