NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday sought response from the Centre on a PIL which claimed that Aadhaar card was being mandatorily insisted upon for administering COVID-19 vaccination on the CoWIN portal.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and B V Nagarathna issued notice to the Centre after petitioner Siddharthshankar Sharma insisted that apart from seven identity documents mentioned in the CoWIN portal, Aadhaar is still being insisted upon.
At the outset, advocates Mayank Kshirsagar and Dhruv Chawla, appearing for Sharma, said that there are several newspaper reports highlighting the insistence of Aadhaar card for vaccination and recently the Meghalaya High Court had to step in on the issue.
“Don’t go by newspaper articles. Have you yourself seen that CoWIN app recently, it has been updated. Now, you don’t require Aadhaar mandatorily, there are a list of other documents also. Go to the Frequently Asked Questions section of CoWIN and you will now see there are varieties of ID proofs with which you can register,” the bench said.
Kshirsagar said this policy is there but it’s only on paper, but when one visits the vaccination Centre, they always insist on Aadhaar card.
“Aadhaar card is not the only ID which they are accepting. You can also register with a Driving Licence, PAN card, Voter’s Card, Ration card and Passport. You can verify yourselves, we may keep this matter pending,” the bench said.
The counsel insisted that the same order be passed as was passed by Meghalaya High Court in July, asking the state government not to insist on Aadhaar card as the only proof of identification for administering COVID-19 vaccination.
The plea has sought effective and non-discriminative enforcement of the already notified rules/ policies in the entire country in a uniform manner, for the protection of right to vaccination granted to citizen of India which is dangerously endangered on account of denial of vaccination due to non-submission of Aadhaar details to the concerned authority.
“Such actions are in blatant violation of right to life under Article 21 read with right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution and hence, the petitioner urges sympathetic indulgence of this court by way of issuing appropriate directions to direct the concerned authority to set aside the mandatory pre-condition of production of Aadhaar details from enabling administration of vaccination.,” the plea said.
The top court also dismissed another PIL which sought direction to authorities to release seized oxygen cylinders and tankers, Remdesivir injection and other medicines and equipment used for treatment of COVID-19.
“We cannot issue blanket directions for all of India. It will create serious chaos in the country. We don’t know for what purpose these things were seized. There may be FIRs filed. It has to be dealt on a case to case basis. We are dismissing it,” the bench said.
The PIL was filed by Shrikant Prasad and others.
Prasad appeared in-person in the matter.