The Delhi government on Tuesday said it will delink pensions to senior citizens, widows, and people with disabilities from Aadhaar and Aadhaar-linked bank accounts. The government’s Department of Social Welfare will pay at old rates all the pensions it had halted due to lack of Aadhaar numbers. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a press release from his office said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court told the Aam Aadmi Party-led government to refrain from insisting on documents like Aadhaar and bank passbooks to provide maternity scheme benefits to pregnant and lactating women, PTI reported. The court asked the government to spread awareness about the schemes.
The court made the observations while hearing a petition highlighting a list of 22 financially deprived women, most of whom did not have bank accounts or Aadhaar cards.
In 2016, the Delhi government had decided not to demand Aadhaar for paying pensions. However, it said that enhanced pension sums would be disbursed only to people with Aadhaar-linked accounts. As a result, 33,191 elderly beneficiaries and 9,799 beneficiaries with disabilities did not receive enhanced pension. They will now be remitted with effect from April.
The Unique Identification Authority of India had also instructed the department that no beneficiaries should be denied benefits or subsidies due to lack of Aadhaar, failure of authentication of the biometric ID, or other extraneous circumstances. If beneficiaries do not have Aadhaar numbers, they should be provided services on the basis of alternative identification documents, it said.
Earlier in March, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre if people without the biometric ID would be denied benefits of state welfare programmes.
The Department of Social Welfare is responsible for the implementation of the Old Age Assistance scheme, wherein pension is available to all senior citizens have lived in Delhi for at least five years and have a family income of Rs 1 lakh, or less, per annum. Beneficiaries between the ages of 60 and 69 are paid Rs 2,000 per month and those above 70 years are given Rs 2,500 per month. An additional Rs 500 per month is given to beneficiaries between 60-69 years of age and belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or minority groups.
The disability pension, which provides Rs 2,500 to each beneficiary, is meant for those persons with disabilities who have lived in Delhi for at least five years and have a family income of Rs 1 lakh, or less, per annum. The upper age limit for this scheme is 60 years.