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Draft law to give legal backing to Aadhaar is ready: Jaitley

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New Delhi: Amidst the ongoing legal battle over applicability of Aadhaar, the government today said the draft legislation to give a statutory backing to the unique identification number is ready and a decision would be taken at an appropriate time.

Moderating the concluding session of the Delhi Economics Conclave, Finance Minister Arun Jatiley said, “I think” now across the political spectrum, state governments and political groups the need and utility for Aadhaar has been universally recognised.

“We are at a situation where there is a challenge pending in a court. And normally courts entertain challenges on issues which are judicially determinable. As to what should be the methodology adopted in governance is not really a judicially determinable matter. It’s a matter for the executive government to decide,” Jaitley said.

He further said there cannot be a situation where Aadhaar is acceptable for certain kind of measures to be adopted by the government but not with regards to others.

“I am quite certain that the view point of the government and those interested in enforcing it would certainly be placed before the Court. And if necessary, the draft legislation is already ready and therefore, at some stage the government can take a decision to enforce.

“And I think, both option of being in court and before the legislature would always be open to any executive government,” Jaitley said and added “Aadhhar and the JAM trinity are here to stay”.

Last month, lifting its earlier restriction, the Supreme Court had allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar for welfare programmes including MGNREGA, all pension schemes, provident fund and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna.

Before the order, the use of Aadhaar was restricted to public distribution system (PDS) and disbursal of cooking gas subsidy.

At the Conclave, Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of UIDAI, which issues Aadhaar numbers, had suggested that steps should be taken to remove the sense of uncertainty regarding Aadhaar.

Earlier in the day, Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha had allayed fears over any affect of the Supreme Court order about use of Aadhaar on direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme saying there is enough leeway for DBT to go on and it is not a banned activity.

According to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) website, 93.18 crore Aadhaar number have been issued so far as against country population of 121 crore as per 2011 census.