New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday came down hard on the Mamata Banerjee government for filing a plea challenging the Center's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of social welfare schemes, saying it was against the federal structure.
The top court asked how a state can challenge the mandate of Parliament and said the West Bengal chief minister could file the plea as an individual.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the West Bengal government, told the court that the plea has been filed by the labor department of the state as subsidies under these schemes have to be given by them.
"You satisfy us how the state has challenged it. We know it is a matter which needs consideration," the bench said adding the Center's move can be challenged by an individual but not by states.
"Let Mamata Banerjee come and file a plea as individual. We will entertain it as she will be an individual," the top court said.
However, Sibal maintained that the state was entitled to file such a plea but said that they would amend the prayer in the petition.
Notice to Center
Meanwhile, the bench issued notice to the Center on a separate plea filed by an individual challenging the linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.
The court has asked the Centre to file its response on the plea in four weeks. The West Bengal government challenged the provision which says that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended.
Earlier, the Centre had told the apex court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of various government schemes has been extended till March 31 next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number.
It had said that the deadline extension from December end till March 31, 2018, would apply only to those who do not have Aadhaar and are willing to enrol for it.
Several petitions, challenging the Center's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes and notifications to link it with mobile numbers and bank accounts, are pending in the apex court.
Aadhaar: all you need to know
Aadhaar is a lifelong unique 12 digit random number assigned to a resident which is verifiable online anywhere anytime using the Aadhaar authentication platform.
The Aadhaar Scheme is primarily aimed at improving the delivery of social security benefits and subsidies.
As per the UIDAI site, Aadhaar means foundation and therefore it is the base on which any delivery system can be built.
PAN and Aadhaar
Has the government made it mandatory to quote Aadhaar number for filing Income Tax returns?
Yes, Section 139(A)(a) of the Income-Tax Act, 1961, as introduced by the Finance Act, 2017, provides for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar /Enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form, for filing of return of income
Bank and Aadhaar
Is it necessary to link bank account with Aadhaar?
As per the gazette notification of the Ministry of Finance, dated June 1, 2017, individuals are required to provide Aadhaar number for linking all their bank accounts before December 31, 2017. For residents not having Aadhaar, it is suggested that they get themselves enrolled to get an Aadhaar.
NRI and Aadhaar
Can NRIs also get Aadhaar?
As per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment is eligible for Aadhaar.
(Information courtesy: UIDAI website)
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