New Delhi: Lifting its earlier restriction, the Supreme Court today permitted voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna' of the NDA government.
The social welfare schemes, aimed at reaching to the door steps of the "poorest of the poor", were in addition to LPG and PDS schemes in which the apex court had allowed the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu also put a caveat in its interim order for the Centre and said, "We also make it clear that Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and not mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this court, this way or the other way."
The bench, while including the four other schemes along with LPG and PDS where Aadhaar may be used, said, "The Union of India to follow all other orders passed by this court since September 23, 2013."
It also said the Constitution bench, which also included Justices M Y Eqbal, C Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, was set up only for the purpose of deciding applications filed by the Centre and bodies like RBI, SEBI, IRDA, TRAI, the Pension Fund Regulatory Authority and states like Gujarat and Jharkhand seeking modification of the August 11 order.
The bench also said that a larger bench was required to be set up for final disposal of the petitions that also include the question as to whether the right to privacy is fundamental right.
The plea for inclusion of various programmes, 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna', MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund, today faced stiff opposition from a battery of senior lawyers like Soli Sorabjee, Gopal Subramanium and Shyam Divan.
'Jan Dhan Yojana' features in Guinness Book of World Records for opening 18,096,130 bank accounts in a week starting from August 23, 2014 as a part of the financial inclusion campaign.
Till October 7, 2015, 18.70 crore accounts have been opened under the scheme.