New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that those who do not hold Aadhaar would not be deprived of benefits under various social welfare schemes by the government until the next hearing in the case.
The Centre had revised the deadline for enrolment under Aadhaar, the Centre’s unique identity number project, from 30 June to 30 September for availing benefits under various social welfare schemes such as mid-day meals and subsidy for LPG.
A vacation bench comprising justices A.M. Khanwilka and Navin Sinha held that an interim order could not be passed on the basis of mere apprehensions and that the court would take action if there was a specific instance where such benefits had been denied in the absence of an Aadhaar number.
The court was hearing three petitions that challenged notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits under social welfare schemes.
“If they have Aadhaar, it’s okay. If they don’t then there is till until 30 September to apply for it. Nobody will be deprived of benefits under social welfare schemes in that time period," Tushar Mehta, additional solicitor general, told the court.
He added that there were alternate mechanisms through which a person who did not hold an Aadhaar card or had applied for it could avail the benefits.
Also read: Taxpayers have less than a week to link Aadhaar with PAN
Last month, the court had upheld the government’s decision to link Aadhaar with the permanent account number (PAN) for filing of income-tax returns, but ruled that non-compliance with the law will carry no retrospective criminal consequences.
Under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the unique identity number is mandatory only to receive social welfare benefits.
In August 2015, a three-judge bench referred the question of whether an Indian citizen enjoys the fundamental right to privacy to a larger Constitution bench, which is yet to be heard.
The case will be heard next on 7 July.