Don’t deny social benefits to people without Aadhaar SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear to the Centre that no person should be denied pension or other social security benefits for non possession of Aadhaar card and the government must spell out a mechanism to ensure that there is no “financial exclusion”.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Kanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan made this oral observation to the attorney-general K.K. Venugopal when he defended the Aadhaar scheme on the ground that it was meant to provide benefits to marginalised sections of society.

At the outset, the A-G sought court’s permission to give a power point presentation on various aspects of Aadhaar to dispel the apprehensions about Aadhaar. He said most of the questions of the court would be answered through the PPP and sought court’s permission for this. The CJI told the A-G that he would convey on Thursday as to when such PPP can be done.

Quoting former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the A-G said that out of `100 allocated to an anti-poverty project, only `15 reached the people, which was confirmed by subsequent reports of the Planning Commission. Justice Sikri pointed out that the figure was later corrected as `17 and not `15. The A-G also submitted that so far no one had come to court complaining that they are denied benefits for not having Aadhaar. The A-G told the court that the core effort of the Aadhaar Act was to protect the money spent on bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.

On petitioners’ concerns of data security, he said the government has taken every effort to ensure it and that the Aadhaar was not a “fly-by-night scheme, but a serious effort to insulate deserving beneficiaries from the effects of corruption”