A girl shows Aadhaar cardA girl shows her Aadhaar card issued by the the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The Supreme Court asked the Centre on Monday not to provide Aadhaar cards, currently being issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), to illegal immigrants as it would legitimize their stay in the country.
The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas against the decisions of some states to make Aadhaar cards compulsory for availing various facilities including Provident Fund disbursals and marriage and property registrations.
Alleging political gains, senior counsel Anil Divan told the bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde that indiscriminate issuance of Aadhaar numbers to all residents, including illegal migrants, created a serious threat to national security.
Linking the Aadhaar number to getting benefits of social welfare schemes under the Food Security Bill, cooking gas subsidy, Employees Provident Fund and direct benefit transfer under social welfare schemes made it mandatory in nature, Divan, representing petitioner and former Karnataka High Court judge K.S. Puttaswamy, said. The petitioner has also sought a stay on the implementation of the scheme.
The Maharashtra government has recently said no marriage will be registered if parties do not have Aadhaar cards, Divan pointed.
Those opting for Aadhaar number were required to give personal information including biometrics, iris and fingerprints, which infringes the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution, Divan said.
The bench was also informed that there were no safeguard to protect the personal information and there was no provision for penalties if it comes to public domain.
Resisting the plea, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the court that Aadhaar card was purely voluntary and there was no need for interim directions. The Centre has said the consent of an individual was indispensable for Aadhaar and it was launched to promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof.
The Unique identification project was initially conceived by the Planning Commission as an initiative that would provide identification for each resident across the country and would be used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services.
Established in 2009, the UIDAI is responsible for implementing the Aadhaar scheme. Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity for every Indian individual, including children and infants. An agency of the Government of India (GoI), owns and operate the Unique Identification Number database. The authority also maintains the database having information like biometric and other data about Aadhaar card recipients.