The government cannot hold back subsidy for cooking gas before 30 November on grounds that customers haven’t given their Aadhaar number, a top government official said on Tuesday.
ABP Pandey, chief executive officer of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) told HT that customers have time till November-end to apply for an Aadhaar number to continue receiving the subsidy.
Pandey said the Aadhaar law requires customers who have not linked an Aadhaar number to their gas connection to submit a copy of their bank passbook, proof of Aadhaar enrolment or an undertaking that the customer has only one subsidised gas connection.
If they do, there is nothing in the law to empower the government to withhold the subsidy.
Pandey’s clarification on the legal position came against the backdrop of reports that the petroleum ministry had decided to stop transferring subsidy to eligible customers if they had not submitted an Aadhaar number.
The government had last week mandated that customers get an Aadhaar number to continue getting cooking gas subsidy.
It was the first time that an order was issued under the Aadhaar law that came into force in September this year. But the law bars the government from denying benefits to people who don’t one.
“Yes, the law requires people to get the Aadhaar number. But it is the responsibility of the government, or its agencies to ensure that everyone who applies for one, is able to enrol for the number,” said Pandey. If there are no enrolment centres at a reasonable distance, the oil company will have to set up one temporarily.