A constitution bench would be set up to hear a clutch of petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing various services and government welfare schemes, the Supreme Court today said. A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the larger bench would commence hearing on these petitions in the last week of November this year. Earlier today, the apex court questioned the West Bengal government for filing a plea challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes while asking how a state can challenge the mandate 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 ot 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.
Senior advocates Gopal Subramanium and Shyam Divan, appearing for those opposing the Aadhaar scheme, had sought urgent hearing on the petitions. 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.
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.
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.