New Delhi: The Centre has stood firm before the Supreme Court on mandatory Aadhaar enrolment by June 30 and said those without the UID number after the deadline would not be entitled to the benefits under social welfare schemes.
It clarified that only those who could not register under Aadhaar by June 30 because of lack of registration facilities in their areas would continue to get benefits, but not others who had the opportunity and facility to register themselves but did not.
“It may be noted that the notification though requires people to enrol for Aadhaar by June 30, 2017, it is provided in the notification that if people are not able to enrol for Aadhaar before June 30 due to lack of facilities in the nearby areas, they can register their request for Aadhaar enrolment before the appropriate authorities giving their contact details so that as and when enrolment facilities are set up in the area, such persons can be enrolled for Aadhar and for such people benefits will continue to be given even if they have not enrolled for Aadhaar before June 30, 2017,” the Centre said in an affidavit.
It requested the SC not to entertain plea for stay of mandatory registration for Aadhaar by June 30 claiming that 95% of the population has already enrolled under the scheme and that linkage of Aadhaar to welfare schemes saved government Rs 49,560 crore in the last two and half years.
The Centre’s fresh affidavit countered new petitions by Shantha Sinha and others, which have sought stay of the notification under Section 7 of the Aadhar Act, 2016. They alleged that many people have not registered under Aadhaar and they would be denied benefits under welfare schemes if they failed to enrol before June 30.
It said: “Uniqueness of Aadhaar helps in elimination of duplicates and fakes from any beneficiary database leading to immense savings through reduction of leakages and wastages and therefore, it subserves vital public interest, which ought not be stayed on account of apprehensions of the present petitioner. There is also the tremendous convenience to the old, infirm and weaker sections of people who receive benefits like pensions etc at their doorstep on account of Aadhaar based e-KYC.”
If Section 7 of the notification is stayed by the SC, “it would tantamount to stay on the enabling provision which allows the government to insist on Aadhaar for delivery of benefits and services paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India and in that event, irreparable injury would be caused to a large number of vulnerable classes of Indians who are dependent on their subsidies and benefits reaching them on account of their unique identification through Aadhaar”, it said.
It quoted a World Bank report, which said once Aadhaar was applied to all social welfare programmes and schemes, the government is expected to save $ 11 billion every year.
The petitioners have expressed apprehension that Aadhaar’s biometric data was unsafe and could enable the government to track activities of citizens in violation of their right to privacy. The Centre said: “The entire premises of the argument of the petitioner that the data is for surveillance purposes is completely baseless and unfounded. By design, the technology architecture of UIDAI precludes even the possibility of profiling individuals for tracking their activities including the purpose for which they may have used Aadhaar.”