Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 6 October
Three oil PSUs have moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its earlier order that Aadhaar card is not mandatory and no person should suffer for want of it in getting benefits of government schemes.
IOCL, BPCL and HPCL would mention the matter tomorrow for urgent hearing before a Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Mr Justice Ranjan Gogoi which has already listed a similar plea of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOPNG) for consideration on 8 October.
Ms Khushbu Jain, counsel for the PSUs, said Additional Solicitor General Nageshwar Rao would mention the plea before the Bench as the earlier order has created “serious doubts, confusion and uncertainty” in the minds of citizens who have already enrolled for Aadhaar card to avail Direct Benefit Transfer for Liquefied Petroleum Gas Consumers (DBTL) scheme to get subsidised LPG cylinders.
The DBTL has already been implemented and has been running successfully in 54 districts and the old system of subsidy has been stopped, the PSUs said, adding that the firms are in process of implementing the scheme in 235 other districts.
Earlier, the apex court agreed to hear on 8 October the plea of MOPNG that has sought “clarification or modification” of the order for continuing with its DBTL scheme which can be availed only by those persons who have secured Aadhaar cards.
A Bench headed by Mr Justice B S Chauhan had on 23 September said: “In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.”
The order had come during the hearing of a PIL filed by Mr Justice K Puttaswamy, former high court judge, seeking to restrain the Centre, Planning Commission and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) from issuing Aadhaar cards by way of an executive order of 28 January 2009.
The MOPNG, in its plea, had said the Aadhaar card was not necessary for the consumers who want to purchase unsubsidised LPG cylinders from the oil companies, but it is necessary for supply of subsidised cylinders in 54 districts in the country.
“Keeping in mind the objectives for which the DBTL scheme has been launched and implemented and the absolute necessity of the Aadhaar card to ensure its successful implementation, this court may be pleased to clarify or modify its order dated 23 September 2013 to state that while no one may be denied domestic LPG cylinders at market rates in the absence of Aadhaar cards, the Aadhaar card may be allowed to be mandatorily sought by the MOPNG to make subsidy payments to those entitled to the same under the DBTL scheme with a view to eliminate diversion of subsidised cylinders into black market,” the plea had said.
“The DBTL scheme has been launched to ensure that the LPG consumers’ entitlement is not diverted and to prevent leakage in the LPG subsidy. The LPG subsidy amounted to Rs 39,558 crores during 2012-13,” it said. It said the average market price of a domestic LPG cylinder is Rs 943.36 and the retail price of the same is Rs 410.50 and “the subsidy works out to Rs 555.55 per subsidised cylinder,” adding that to avoid diversion of funds, the modification of the order was needed.