The Supreme Court has set up a constitution bench which will hear a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing various services and government welfare schemes. The Supreme Court order came a day it questioned West Bengal government’s plea against the Aadhaar.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said the larger bench would commence hearing on these petitions in the last week of November this year.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court questioned West Bengal government’s plea questioning the locus of state government. The court sought to know if it could challenge the decision which has a backing of Parliament.
It also asked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to file the plea as an individual.
Recently, a nine-judge Constitution bench had held that the Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had raised the issue that the scheme was violative of privacy rights.
The petitioners had termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as illegal and unconstitutional and strongly objected to the CBSE’s move to make it mandatory for students to appear for exams.
Senior advocates Gopal Subramanium and Shyam Divan, appearing for those opposing the Aadhaar scheme, had sought urgent hearing on the petitions.
Divan, appearing for some of the petitioners, had earlier contended that final hearing in the main Aadhaar matter, which is pending before the apex court, was necessary as the government “cannot compel” citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or mobile numbers.
The Centre had on October 25 told the apex court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail the benefits of the government schemes has been extended till March 31 next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number and were willing to have it.