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SC Bench recuses from Aadhaar case

20 May 2017

Observing that a detailed hearing by an appropriate bench is required, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to pass an interim order at this stage staying various notifications issued under the Aadhaar Act to make unique identity number mandatory for several social welfare schemes.

Rohatgi said that Aadhaar was being made compulsory so that benefits of schemes do not "go to ghosts".

Recusing from hearing the matter, the vacation bench said that the matter would be listed before an appropriate bench.

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However, the bench asked "why this second petition when you have already filed a plea earlier seeking similar reliefs".

Rohatgi said that earlier, some pleas seeking identical interim reliefs were also filed and those matters were pending before the apex court. He also requested that the case be referred to the two-judge bench appointed to hear urgent cases during the summer vacation.

As Rohatgi said that even the present petition should be heard by the constitution bench, Divan wondered why he was fighting shy of hearing of the matter on merits. "Now, no other bench except the constitution bench can take up this matter", he said. "The matter needed to be heard urgently", Divan had told the court ahead of today's hearing.

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When the court asked Divan whether the orders passed by the three-judge and five-judge bench earlier were not serving the goal, the senior counsel replied "they (Centre) are violating those orders".

"They are in breach of it", senior counsel Shyam Divan told the bench as it inquired from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi about the assurance given by the Centre that it would not share with anyone the biometric information given by people at the time of applying for Aadhaar card.

He said if a person does not have Aadhaar till June 30, he can get himself enrolled for it and enrollment slips and slips of request made for it would also serve the objective.

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Strongly opposing the petition, Mr Rohatgi made it clear that the government was not going to extend the deadline of June 30 by which various schemes such as grant of scholarships, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and various other social welfare schemes were to seek mandatory Aadhaar number. The bench, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha, said it would hear all petitions against making Aadhaar compulsory for various schemes to avoid multiplicity. The apex court had earlier on October 15, 2015 permitted the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards for welfare schemes like MGNREGA, all pension schemes, the provident fund and the "Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna" in addition to LPG and PDS schemes.

SC Bench recuses from Aadhaar case