New Delhi, Jan 17: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday targetted National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over the Aadhaar programme, terming it a compulsory weapon to ‘disempower’ citizens.Also Read - PAN-Aadhaar Card Linking Deadline Extended Till March 2022 | Here’s How to Link it Online

“UPA’s Aadhaar = A voluntary instrument to empower citizens. NDA’s Aadhaar = A compulsory weapon to disempower citizens,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi. The Congress government, which introduced the Aadhaar system, is opposing the government’s stand that it should be compulsory for receiving the benefits of state-sponsored welfare schemes. Also Read - Rajasthan Makes Misbehaviour With Toursits Cognizable Offence, Non-Bailable One For Repeated Offenders

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Rahul Gandhi’s reaction came on the day when the Supreme Court began final hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of linking Aadhaar card to a number of government schemes. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and four other judges Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Adarsh Kumar Sikri, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, was hearing 27 petitions challenging various aspects of the Aadhaar system.

During the hearing, senior lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners, said Aadhaar is a ‘giant electronic mesh’ and will turn the country ‘into a surveillance state’. Divan told the five-judge Constitution bench that Aadhaar may cause the death of citizens’ civil rights. “A people’s Constitution is being sought to be converted into a State’s Constitution,” he said.

Since the inception of the Aadhaar card, its validity and possible leakages of data have surfaced time and again. The apex court has also received petitions regarding the linkage of this 12-digit number with mobile phones, bank accounts and so on, the last date for which was extended to March 31 this year.