New Delhi, Feb 13: The NDA government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it will continue with the erstwhile UPA regime's flagship programme, the Aadhaar scheme.
"Government has decided to continue with the Aadhaar scheme," Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar informed a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu.
The Solicitor General was apprising the bench, also comprising Justice A K Sikri, which earlier this month had asked him to apprise it of the Centre's stand on the matter.
The scheme has come under severe judicial criticism in the recent past, with even the apex court staying the government's decision to link Aadhaar with the grant of subsidy, including that on LPG cylinders.
Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for a petitioner seeking quashing of the gazette notification of January 28, 2009 by the Planning Commission on the issue, submitted that the constitutional validity of the scheme should be examined now.
Subramaniam, appearing along with lawyer Aishwarya Bhati for Mathew Thomas, brought to the notice of the bench that Maharashtra government has linked the disbursal of salary of its employees through the Aadhaar scheme and the same was also applied for the disbursal of salary of the Bombay High Court judges.
As this submission was made, the Solicitor General said Maharashtra government and RBI were not party in the PIL. Taking note of the submission, the bench impleaded both as party and sought their responses.
The bench further said a special bench, preferrably comprising judges who had inconclusively heard the matter in the first round of litigation during UPA regime, will be set up to hear this PIL.
The order was passed after a brief hearing during which the Solicitor General said the state governments might have insisted on the Aadhaar numbers, but the Centre had not.
He said he was not aware how many other state governments or public authorities had made the number compulsory even after the apex court order.
The court tagged the new petition to nine other public interest petitions pending in the court pertaining to Aadhaar. The bench said since the previous bench had passed some interim order, all petitions will be heard after a month.