Lawyer moves Delhi HC against Aadhaar demand for availing benefit under CM welfare scheme

A lawyer approached the Delhi High Court on Monday challenging the mandatory requirement of furnishing Aadhaar details to avail himself of the benefits under the Chief Minister Advocates’ Welfare Scheme.

The counsel for the petitioner told a division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma that he did not want to provide his Aadhaar number to the authorities for the purpose of re-registration under the scheme in the absence of any data protection law.

The court observed orally that all welfare schemes of the government have certain terms and conditions, and the petitioner could choose to not opt for those that have conditions he did not agree with.

“You can withdraw from the scheme, nobody will touch your Aadhaar then…It is a welfare scheme. If you don’t like it, don’t apply,” the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula said.

The petitioner’s lawyer said he was willing to furnish any other document as identity proof.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 20, and asked the counsel for the petitioner to seek further instructions.

Petitioner Gaurav Jain has said he did not want to furnish his Aadhaar number at the time of re-registration under the scheme due to “serious unaddressed privacy concerns especially in the absence of a data protection law”.

The petitioner, who was represented by advocate Chandni Chawla, successfully registered under the scheme in April 2020.

The petition said there was “no legitimate requirement” of seeking Aadhaar details for re-registering for the Chief Minister Advocates’ Welfare Scheme when the petitioner, a practising advocate enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi and an elector here, was otherwise eligible for the benefit under the scheme.

Through Chief Minister Advocates’ Welfare Scheme (CMAWS), the Delhi government is providing health and life cover to advocates in the city.

The petition said compelling the petitioner to provide his Aadhaar number in order to register for CMAWS is arbitrary and violates his right to privacy.

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“Aadhaar number does not help the respondent to ascertain the eligibility of an advocate for CMAWS. As far as the identity of the petitioner is concerned, the Bar Card, the CoP (Certificate of Practice) and the EPIC (Election Photo Identity Card) establish his identity beyond any doubt. Notwithstanding all the aforementioned reasons, respondent has made Aadhaar mandatory for registration/re-registration for CMAWS,” the petition said.

“Making Aadhaar mandatory for registration under CMAWS has no reasonable nexus or causal connection with the objects sought to be achieved by CMAWS, i.e. providing life/health cover to practicing advocates of Delhi,” it added.

The plea said the petitioner tried to re-register himself for CMAWS in March but the portal did not let him do so unless he first provided his Aadhaar number.

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