The Supreme Court on Monday rapped West Bengal government led by CM Mamata Banerjee for filing a plea against Aadhaar. The top court asked as to how can a state question a Central law. Earlier, the West Bengal government had moved the apex court against the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes. According to ANI, the apex court observed that anyone can move top court in personal capacity but the state can’t question Central law. The plea was listed for hearing today before a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.
What the Supreme Court said
“How can a state file such a plea. In a federal structure, how can a state file a plea challenging Parliament’s mandate,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, told the court that the plea was filed by the labour department of the state as subsidies under these schemes have to be given by them.
“You satisfy us how the state has challenged it. We know it is a matter which needs consideration,” the bench said adding the Centre’s move can be challenged by an individual but not by states. “Let Mamata Banerjee come and file a plea as an individual. We will entertain it as she will be an individual,” the top court said. However, Sibal said the state was entitled to file such a plea but said that they would amend the prayer in the petition.
Notice to Centre
The bench has issued a notice to the Centre on a separate plea filed by an individual challenging the linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar. The court asked the Centre to file its response on the plea in four weeks.
Senior advocate and member of parliament Kalyan Banerjee had earlier said West Bengal government has challenged the provision which said that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended. On October 25, the Centre had told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of various government schemes has been extended till March 31 next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number.
Attorney General K K Venugopal had told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the deadline extension from December end this year till March 31, 2018, would apply only to those who do not have Aadhaar and are willing to enrol for it.
However, Venugopal had told the bench that he would take instructions on certain issues on Aadhaar after which the court had asked him to mention the matter again on October 30. Several petitions, challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes and notifications to link it with mobile numbers and bank accounts, are pending with the apex court.