SC lets Aadhaar link to Digital Locker stay

The Supreme Court today refused to interfere with the mandatory requirement of an Aadhaar card for use of the "Digital Locker" service, which allows citizens to store digital copies of their government-issued documents on a government portal.

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 29.09.15
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New Delhi, Sept. 28: The Supreme Court today refused to interfere with the mandatory requirement of an Aadhaar card for use of the "Digital Locker" service, which allows citizens to store digital copies of their government-issued documents on a government portal.

The bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy did not go into the merits of the petition by social activist Sudhir Yadav, who had cited past apex court orders against authorities' insistence on Aadhaar cards to extend benefits or services.

Instead, the court faulted the petitioner on the technical ground of having failed to move a contempt petition --- rather than a writ petition ---- if he had been aggrieved by the Centre's stipulation.

Today's ruling implies that, by default, the Digital Locker service has now entered the small list of services or benefits that, under apex court orders, the authorities can tie to Aaadhaar cards.

Yadav's writ petition had sought punishment for the government officials who had made the production of an Aadhaar card mandatory for the Digital Locker service.

A writ petition is moved in the apex court or a high court to raise a fresh plea on any subject, such as the violation of one's fundamental rights. However, since Yadav was alleging government defiance of earlier apex court directives, he should have moved a contempt plea.

Three separate apex court orders --- on September 23 in 2013 and on March 16 and August 11 this year --- had restrained the Centre and the states from making the production of Aadhaar cards mandatory for welfare benefits or services.

However, the August 11 order had slightly modified the two earlier orders to allow a partial relaxation. It said the government could insist on Aadhaar cards in the limited context of subsidised food grains, kerosene and cooking gas as an interim measure until a Constitution Bench decided the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

Yadav had also alleged that the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to the Digital Locker scheme violated the right to equality as citizens who had not yet enrolled for the Aadhaar card couldn't access the portal.

The Centre had announced the Digital Locker service for all citizens on July 1, during the Digital India Week.

One can create an account on the website digitallocker.gov.in by providing one's Aadhaar card number and thus obtain a secure and dedicated personal electronic space.

There, one can store digital copies of personal documents like one's passport, PAN card, voter I-card and school board and university certificates, as well as the uniform resource identifiers (URIs) of the e-documents issued by government departments such as the income-tax authorities.

A citizen's Digital Locker account also enables her to share e-documents with any government agency that may require them, thus cutting the use of physical documents and expenses and potentially making services faster.

The website is run by the department of electronics and information technology under the ministry of communications and information technology.