The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday another plea challenging the Aadhaar Act and the mandatory use of the unique identification number for availing benefits in at least 17 government schemes, including mid-day meal and disability pension. A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, agreed to senior advocate Shyam Divan plea that the Aadhaar case being important needs to be heard on urgent basis.
“Despite the order of this court that Aadhaar will be voluntary and not mandatory, the government has been coming out with a series of notifications, making it mandatory to avail benefits of schemes like scholarships, Right to Food and mid-day meal in schools,” the senior lawyer said. Divan is appearing for former chairperson of the National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Shanta Sinha, one of the petitioners in the Aadhaar matter.
He said a two-judge Bench should hear the applications against making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes.
Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar opposed Divan’s plea, saying even interim orders in the Aadhaar matter have been passed by a five-judge bench and hence it would not be appropriate to list the fresh matter before a two-judge bench.
Several petitions, challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar are pending in the apex court and would be heard by a Constitution Bench, which is yet to be set up by the CJI.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their welfare schemes. A bench led by the CJI had on March 27 made it clear that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes, but can be enforced for “non-benefit” purposes like filing