The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Government of India if people who do not have Aadhaar cards were non-existent for it.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur made this observation when it was told that Aadhaar is demanded as a proof for entry to a night shelter, according to a News18 report.
The court made the comments while hearing a case related not to Aadhaar, but to night-shelters for homeless people across the country in the deepening winter chill.
The Chief Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh government, who had been summoned by the Court, was emphatic that people must have some identity proof if they want to use night shelters and they are usually asked to show Aadhaar cards.
“What about those who don’t have Aadhaar, do they not exist for the government of India at all?” the Court questioned the Chief Secretary and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The ASG clarified that he was not appearing for the UIDAI but for some state governments in this case and therefore, he was not in a position to speak on behalf of Aadhaar.
At this, the bench questioned the Chief Secretary or any other official present in the court if they had any idea how many have so far enrolled with Aadhaar.
Finally, advocate Prashant Bhushan said that according to the Central government’s claim, more than 90 Crore people had obtained Aadhaar cards.
“So how will these people make Aadhaar when they don’t have an address? This is winter, suppose somebody is thrown out of his or her home. Will you still insist for Aadhaar?” it questioned the Chief Secretary.
The senior bureaucrat responded that Aadhaar was one of the proofs required but one or the other proof will certainly be asked for. This submission also did not go down well with the bench, which asked if the state will deny the facility of night shelter to a destitute man because he does not have an identity proof.
The Court, expressing dissatisfaction at the state of affairs, said that the Central government should have an effective consultation with the petitioner as well as other state governments to come up with reasonable conditions and better facilities, coupled with the speedy construction of night shelters. It adjourned the PIL after two weeks.
The PIL has highlighted the shortage of night shelters and misuse of funds meant for their construction.