On Saturday the ministry of human resource development announced that the midday meal would no longer be free for those children without an Aadhaar card. The rule was made applicable to the cook-cum-helpers as well. It was stated that children must be enrolled in the Aadhar scheme by June 30, if they were to get a free meal.
The Supreme Court, in a 2014 judgement had said that in the overall scheme of things, the Aadhaar card would not be mandatory and no person shall be deprived of any service for want of an Aadhaar number in case he or she is otherwise eligible or entitled.
In 2015, the SC reiterated that the Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by the court.
The government however justifies its decision by stating that the Aadhaar cards were necessary to make the process smoother. "Services would become transparent, easier and smoother," the government argued.
The move seems to be an insensitive one. The decision is in clear violation of the Supreme Court's observations. Moreover, it is pertinent to note that in November 2015, the government had said that Aadhar cards were not that necessary. It had said that a citizen would be eligible for government services in absence of the card provided alternate identification given. Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act Act provides that if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.