NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict for Tuesday on the Centre’s plea that the petitions challenging the government’s project to grant Aadhaar cards to all citizens be referred to a Constitutional Bench.
A three-judge Bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said that it will take a decision on whether the questions raised by the Centre can be referred to a larger Bench or not on August 11. “Whether the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India, in the light of express ratio to the contrary by an eight-judge Bench in M P Sharma case and also by a six-judge Bench of this court in Kharaksingh’s case,” stated one of the questions raised by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.He also questioned, “If so, what are the contours of the Right to Privacy?”
The Bench said that it will consider all these questions and pronounce the judgment on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Centre had sought the transfer of pleas against Aadhaar to larger Bench, saying that a two-judge or a three- judge Bench cannot decide it. Referring to pronouncements made in historic cases like A K Gopalan, Maneka Gandhi and bank nationalisation, Rohatgi had said that inconsistencies with regard to interpretation of certain fundamental rights can only be squared up by a larger Bench.
Rohatgi had said that the apex court had long ago held that privacy was not a fundamental right.
However, later smaller Benches of the court “wrongly” held that Right to Privacy was a fundamental right by reading it in Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution, he had said.
Earlier, the government had opposed a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against it, RBI and others for allegedly insisting on Aadhaar cards to grant benefits of various schemes to citizens, saying it was not mandatory.
The Bench is hearing a batch of pleas against some states’ decisions to make Aadhaar cards compulsory for a range of activities.