NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court today assured the Centre and bodies like Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that it will take a decision by tomorrow evening on their plea seeking setting up a larger bench for modifying an earlier order restricting the voluntary use of Aadhaar card to Public distribution System (PDS) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) schemes only.
"Please give me time till tomorrow evening. Let me decide it. The question is I have to spare nine judges for this. What will happen to other matters," a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter before it.
Rohatgi's plea for urgent hearing of the application for modification of the earlier order was supported by a battery of senior lawyers, including K K Venugopal and Harish Salve.
"All social benefit schemes of the government are being affected. We seek the modification that the Aadhaar be allowed to be used voluntarily for the benefit of the poor and aged groups," he said and referred to importance of Aadhaar in schemes like MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.
During the brief hearing, Salve suggested to the bench that instead of a nine-judge bench, a bench of five judges can be constituted to decide the applications seeking modification of the earlier order.
The apex court had yesterday refused to modify its interim order and allow bodies like RBI and SEBI and some states to permit voluntary use of Aadhaar card for welfare schemes other than the public distribution system (PDS) and LPG schemes.
The court had made it clear that all applications seeking "modification, clarification and relaxation" of its August 11 interim order will be heard by a Constitution Bench.
On August 11, the apex court had said that Aadhaar card will remain optional for availing welfare schemes of the government and the authorities will not use it for the purposes other than PDS and LPG distribution system.
The Centre, RBI, SEBI, IRDA, TRAI, Pension Fund Regulatory Authority and states like Gujarat and Jharkhand had recently moved the court and pitched strongly for voluntary use of Aadhaar cards for providing benefits of various schemes, other than PDS and LPG, at the doorstep of the aged people and the weaker sections.