Supreme Court forms Constitutional Bench to decide on UID’s constitutionality

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed with Centre’s plea to decide the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme, which has been under judicial review for nearly three years, at the earliest and set up a Constitution bench to hear the case.

Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made an impassioned plea for early adjudication of the case arising out of plea filed by various civil rights activists challenging the Constitutional validity of the ambitious scheme. He told the bench the court should allow the government and its agencies to link Aadhaar with various social welfare schemes.

The CJI assured that he would set up a Constitution bench by Friday evening to decide the issue. The SC, however, set up the special bench by Thursday evening itself. The bench will take up the case on October 14.

In a big setback to the Centre, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to give a ruling on the Narendra Modi government’s high-pitched and public interest-laced plea to allow citizens to voluntarily use Aadhaar cards to avail benefits under all social welfare schemes saying that the matter should be decided by a five-judge Constitution bench.

The SC had in its August 11 interim order said no one would be denied benefits under social welfare schemes for want of the 11-digit unique identification number. However, it had permitted the government to link PDS and LPG subsidies to the Aadhaar card to check possible pilferage.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Chelameswar, had referred the petitions challenging the validity of making Aadhaar card mandatory to a five-judge bench along with the question whether it violated citizens’ right to privacy. The court also added a critical question – whether right to privacy was part of citizens’ fundamental right to life – after the Centre had cited eight-judge bench decisions that right to privacy was not a fundamental right.