The Supreme Court on 30 October 2017 decided to form a constitutional bench to hear petitions against Union Government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing various services and government welfare schemes.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud announced that a larger bench would be formed to hear these petitions.
Arguments made by petitioners
• On 24 August 2017 a nine-judge Constitution bench held that the Right of Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Petitioners challenged the validity of Aadhaar raising the issue that the scheme violates rights of privacy.
• The petitioners termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as illegal and unconstitutional.
• They also objected to the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) move to make Aadhar compulsory for students to appear for exams.
• Petitioners also argued that the Union Government cannot compel citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or mobile numbers.
• Aadhaar is a 12-digit number code which is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It is used to establish a person's identity on the basis of demographic and biometric information.
• Section 139AA of IT Act permits mandatory linkage of Aadhaar for filing income tax returns (ITR) and allotment of PAN (permanent account number).
• In June 2017 Government made Aadhaar mandatory for opening new accounts. It also announced that that all existing bank accounts will have to be linked with Aadhaar number or else the accounts will be declared invalid.
Meanwhile, on 30 October 2017, the Supreme Court questioned the West Bengal government for filing a plea against Union government’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory so as to avail benefits of various social welfare schemes.
The Apex Court also asked Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee to file a plea as an individual and not as a state. The court held that state cannot go against the Centre in a constitutional matter.
Who: Supreme Court
When: 30 October 2017