Aadhaar Card Has Nothing To Do With Citizenship, Can Be Given To Non-Citizens: UIDAI To Calcutta HC

Published on: 06 July, 2024 23:58 IST

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has clarified before the Calcutta High Court that the issuance of Aadhaar cards is independent of citizenship status. According to UIDAI, even non-residents who have lawfully entered India can be granted Aadhaar cards if they apply for them. This statement was made during a hearing on a plea filed by the ‘Joint Forum Against NRC,’ which challenged the abrupt deactivation and reactivation of several Aadhaar cards in West Bengal.

The plea, heard by a division bench consisting of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya, questioned the constitutional validity of Regulations 28A and 29 of the Aadhaar Rules. These regulations grant UIDAI the authority to determine and deactivate the Aadhaar cards of individuals deemed to be foreigners. The petitioners argued that this power is excessive and infringes on fundamental rights.

Petitioners’ counsel, Jhuma Sen, argued that Aadhaar has become essential for every aspect of life in India, stating, “Aadhaar is a behemoth. One cannot be born without Aadhaar, as it is required for birth certificates, and one cannot die without Aadhaar. Our lives are connected within the matrix of Aadhaar.” Sen highlighted a specific case where the deactivation of a Bangladeshi national’s Aadhaar card was overturned by a coordinate bench of the High Court.

Representing UIDAI, Senior Counsel Laxmi Gupta challenged the standing of the petitioners, labeling the ‘Joint Forum Against NRC’ as an “unregistered organization” and arguing that their plea was therefore not maintainable. Gupta further reiterated that Aadhaar cards are not tied to citizenship and can be issued to non-citizens for a limited duration to enable access to government subsidies.

Additional Solicitor General Ashok Kumar Chakrabarti, appearing for the Union, supported UIDAI’s stance, adding that the plea was not maintainable because it failed to challenge Section 54 of the Aadhaar Act, the source of the contested regulations. Chakrabarti emphasized that challenging the Aadhaar regulations could be seen as questioning the country’s sovereignty, a matter he described as an “act of sovereign.”

The High Court is yet to deliver its verdict on the matter.

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