Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of its welfare schemes, the Supreme Court said today.
The government, however, cannot be stopped from using Aadhaar in other schemes like opening of bank accounts, the court said.
"Aadhaar can't be mandatory for social welfare schemes but can be used for non-benefit schemes. Our earlier order is very clear. You can't stop government from using Aadhaar for non-benefit schemes like Income Tax," Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said today.
A seven-judge bench has to be set up to hear petitions challenging Aadhaar but right now it is not possible, the top court said.
The government recently made it mandatory for citizens to produce the 12-digit Aadhaar number for benefits under nearly three dozen central schemes including free mid-day meals for schoolchildren. Aadhaar was also made compulsory for scholarships and other schemes for backward castes and the disabled.
The government said it would help people to get their biometric identity documents by June 30.
Aadhaar cards are mandatory for subsidised cooking gas or LPG and food grains.
The Supreme Court today reiterated its earlier stand that Aadhaar cards cannot be mandatory for people to get benefits under government welfare schemes.