India’s Aadhaar Program Faces Judicial Setback

India's Aadhaar Program Faces Judicial SetbackIndia’s Supreme Court has refused to rule on a case brought by the central government seeking to expand its use of the Aadhaar biometric identity card system. That effectively means that a previous ruling restricting the government’s use of Aadhaar remains in effect.

The central issue here is the Modi government’s desire to make use of the Aadhaar biometric card mandatory for Indian citizens seeking to access a range of government services. In a previous ruling in August, a three-person bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the government could link the country’s PDS food security subsidy and its LPG gas subsidy to Aadhaar cards on a trial basis, but also referred constitutional challenges to the Aadhaar program to a five-person bench. Now, the Supreme Court has suggested that the question of whether the government should be allowed to expand the role of its Aadhaar program should also go to a five-person bench.

It’s a high-profile issue for the Modi government. It has endeavoured to use the biometric identity card program in a range of areas including the administration of healthcare services, time and attendance tracking for government workers, and reducing graft and corruption in the administration of subsidies. In seeking to expand Aadhaar’s reach beyond the constraints imposed by the Supreme Court, the government has argued that tens of millions of Indians are currently being denied the benefits of using Aadhaar as a single access point for government benefits.

Source: The Times of India

October 8, 2015 – by Alex Perala