NEW DELHI: THE Supreme Court Wednesday said it would hear a batch of petitions on Aadhaar-related matters in November after the Centre said it will extend until December 31, the deadline to furnish Aadhaar to avail of benefits of social welfare schemes. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said there was no urgency to hear the matter after attorney general
K K Venugopal told it that the Centre will extend the September 30 deadline. Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing various petitioners, mentioned the matter before the bench and sought early hearing on the petitions which have also challenged the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing of benefits of various social welfare schemes and referred to the privacy judgment by Justice Nariman which states that a three-judge bench should hear the case.
When he referred to the September 30 deadline to give Aadhaar for availing of these benefits, the attorney general said the government would extend it to December 31. “We (Centre) have said we will extend it to December 31,” Venugopal told the bench which also comprised justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar.
However, the attorney general requested the bench that these matters be sent for adjudication by a five-judge bench, considering the importance of the issues involved in it. The bench responded, “The urgency is not there. It will be listed in the first week of November.” On July 7, a three-judge bench had said that all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench. However, on July 12, the apex court said that its five-judge Constitution bench will hear matters relating to Aadhaar, including the aspect of right to privacy.
A nine-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had on August 24, declared the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right saying it is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedom guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution. The apex court was hearing three separate petitions challenging the government’s notification making Aadhaar mandatory for availing of benefits of social welfare schemes.
The court had earlier passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their its schemes. It, however, had allowed the Centre to seek the Aadhaar card voluntarily from citizens for extending benefits of schemes like the LPG subsidy, Jan Dhan scheme and public distribution system.