The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed all the parties concerned to file their written submissions to put forth their case. The judgement was reserved after a marathon hearing which went on for 38 days spanning four months.
During the arguments spread over four months, the Centre had strongly defended its decision to seed Aadhaar numbers with mobile phones, telling the top court that it could have been hauled up for contempt if the verification of mobile users was not undertaken by it. However, the court had said that the government had misinterpreted its order and used it as a “tool” to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court judge, Justice D Y Chandrachud recalled a personal experience when his mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, had faced difficulty in authentication to get her pension. Recalling his experience, Justice Chandrachud said “my mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease was entitled to family pension being the wife of a former Chief Justice of India (late Justice Y V Chandrachud). Justice Chandrachud said that her mother had to give a thumb impression for authentication. Every month, the bank manager or his representative would come home and affix her thumbprint on certain documents and only then her mother could get the pension, he recalled. “So it (authentication) is a serious issue. It’s not largesse. It is not charity…we have to find answers for these problems,” he said, adding that there was a class of needy people who may not get the benefits due to authentication failures.
Justice Chandrachud is also a part of the 5-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and its enabling law of 2016.
The apex court judge was responding to the arguments of senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for former High Court judge Justice (Retd) K S Puttaswamy, who said a 90-year-old woman suffering from various ailments is being threatened that her bank account could be closed for non-authentication by Aadhaar.
Divan said that through that bank account, she was getting her pension and she uses that money for her treatment as she has no one else to look after her. He said in many villages, young people have now migrated to cities or nearby towns and only the elderly residing there were dependent on their pension or other grants. But due to Aadhaar authentication failure, they were not getting the benefits.