New Delhi :  The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to immediately withdraw any instructions issued by it that make the Aadhaar card mandatory for citizens for availing of government services.

In September, the court had ruled that the card cannot be a prerequisite for public services. The two-judge Bench also issued a blanket order directing the Aadhaar issuing authority not to share the biometric data of card holders with any investigating agency “with-out the express consent of person concerned.”

Biometrics data collected for Aadhar is confidential, the court reiterated.  The CBI had sought the data base of residents of Goa, so that it could be compared with the data obtained from a crime scene for the purpose of investigating the rape of a minor girl on a school premises in Vasco (Goa).

The UIDAI contended that such an order would set a bad precedent, besides opening floodgates of similar requests by various investigative agencies calling for information, including biometrics of residents, for the purpose of investigation. It further said biometric data cannot be shared without the consent of the resident.

The UIDAI submitted that more than 60 crore residents have enrolled themselves for Aadhaar by providing their demographic and biometric information for civilian application only and sharing the data would endanger the fundamental rights of the citizens.

“Using such data, like latent fingerprints, for conducting an investigation is not within the constitutional and legal mandate and scope of the UIDAI. It is also fundamentally against the core reason residents have provided their data voluntarily to the UIDAI,” the petition said.

“The right to privacy is one of the basic human rights of an individual and UIDAI is committed to protect this aspect,” it said.

The Aadhar scheme is being rolled out by the Unique Identification Authority of India or UIDAI, till recently headed by Nandan Nilekani, who co-founded software giant Infosys. He is now contesting the national election as the Congress candidate from Bangalore South. The government says it has already spent nearly 50,000 crores on the scheme.

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