New Delhi: Three central government bodies and the state government of Gujarat on Tuesday mounted a united defence of the Aadhaar scheme in the Supreme Court (SC).

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the state of Gujarat moved the apex court seeking a modification of its 11 August interim order restricting the use of Aadhaar, the unique identity number, to paying subsidies for the public distribution system (PDS) and cooking gas.

Mint reported on 22 September that the RBI had sought a clarification from SC on whether banks can use customers’ Aadhaar numbers as an acceptable form of identity. Advocate Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of Sebi, asked the court whether Aadhaar can be used as a valid proof of address to establish the identity of market brokers and other intermediaries.

Meanwhile, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Gujarat, requested the court to permit the use of Aadhaar for all government social benefit schemes.

“If a person has voluntarily obtained an Aadhaar card and then chooses to produce the same as proof of identification, then there should be no reason for banks or financial institutions for preventing the person from doing so," the petition filed by the market regulator said.

“The idea is that all parties who need clarification and are not clear about the judgement have approached the court in terms of usage of Aadhaar as it is a powerful tool to implement the government’s financial inclusion and m-governance initiatives," said an official of one of the parties seeking a review from the apex court. The official requested anonymity.

A three-judge bench of the apex court comprising justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and C. Nagappan had said in August that “UIDAI/Aadhaar will not be used for any other purposes except PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution system. Even for the public distribution system, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution system, the card will not be mandatory."

The bench was hearing several pleas challenging the validity of Aadhaar. Some relate to Aadhaar numbers being made mandatory to avail of certain government benefits and services. Others deal with the number itself being a violation of an individual’s privacy, especially in the absence of any backing regulation or oversight, and some deal with possible misuse of the information. The case has been referred to a larger constitutional bench to determine whether or not the right to privacy is a fundamental right.

The bench adjourned the hearing to 6 October and is likely to decide whether the case can now be heard by the same three judge bench or if it should be heard by a larger constitution bench to which the case has been referred.

The SC chief justice is yet to notify the constitution of a larger bench that to hear the matter.

Saurabh Kumar contributed to this story.