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Supreme Court decision on UID to bring several government projects to a halt

It will definitely impact all existing linkages and new projects which were in the pipeline. Work has stopped for now for Aadhaar, said officials.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Oct 08, 2015, 10.16 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday not to allow wider use of Aadhaar and refer the matter to a wider constitutional bench will bring several social initiatives of the central government to a screeching halt, officials said.

"Even though the court has not rejected the review applications, it is a major blow," said a government official.

"It will definitely impact all existing linkages and new projects which were in the pipeline. Work has stopped for now for Aadhaar," said the official who requested anonymity. The Supreme Court had, in an interim order passed in August, restricted the use of Aadhaar to just food and LPG subsidy, virtually making all other linkages illegal. The Centre, four state governments, and five regulators including the RBI, Sebi and Trai had filed review petitions, pointing out that banks, stock exchanges and telecom companies accept Aadhaar as proof of identity.

Hearing a batch of 11 review applications, a three-member SC bench, however, refused to immediately lift the restriction of Aadhaar.

According to experts, usage of Aadhaar by state and private agencies will now come to a standstill and many projects will be affected. "It could take months or even a year for some clarity to come on the issue," said an expert who requested anonymity.

Already, over the last one month, many agencies have issued directives to reconsider or halt their linkages with Aadhaar to avoid contempt of court.

The list includes the Election Commission (which was seeding the entire country’s voter identity cards to weed out fakes and duplicates), Employees Provident Fund Organisation (that had linked the unique account number with Aadhaar), ministry of rural development (MGNREGA funds were being disbursed through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts), and the finance ministry administering the Jan Dhan Yojana (that was providing the overdraft facility to Aadhaarlinked accounts).

Many other schemes including DigiLocker, e-sign and Jeevan Praman, too, are linked to Aadhaar and are confused about its status after the SC order. Unless the current order is modified, even the voluntary usage of Aadhaar for any other purpose except for LPG and food subsidy by citizens will be disputed.

Even though the options with the government are now limited, it is likely to approach the court on Thursday to request the constitutional bench to be formed at the earliest.

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