The Supreme Court on Monday decided to set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear all pending petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar, from the last week of November.
The top court, however, slammed the West Bengal government for questioning the Aadhaar Act passed by Parliament. What would happen to the federal structure if the states start challenging the central law, it countered.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, making a mention, urged a bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra not to issue any interim order. He said more than 100 orders and notifications have been issued by the Centre to address glitches in implementation of Aadhaar.
Venugopal submitted before the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that false information has been spread that Aadhaar has been made mandatory for appearing in the Classes 10 and 12 examinations. Senior advocate C A Sundaram, representing Maharashtra submitted that the apex court has already passed a judgement, making it mandatory for linking of Aadhaar with PAN cards. He also cited the apex court’s order in NGO Lokniti Foundation’s case, desiring the government to link all mobile numbers with the Aadhaar numbers.
Senior advocates Gopal Subramanium and Shyam Divan, however, sought interim orders against any coercive actions for those not linking their Aadhaar number with their bank accounts or mobile numbers.
The court, for its part, preferred to put the matter before the Constitution bench.
Earlier, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan took exception to a writ petition filed by the West Bengal government, challenging the validity of the Aadhaar Act.
“How can a state challenge the vires of an Act passed by Parliament? If Mamata Banerjee is aggrieved, let her come and file the petition as a citizen,” the bench told senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Kalyan Banerjee, representing the state government.
The counsels submitted that it was the labour department which has moved the court.
“You have to satisfy us first if the state government can file such a petition,” the bench said, asking the TMC government to amend the prayer in its petition.
The court, meanwhile, issued notice to the Centre, seeking its response within four weeks on a petition filed by Raghav Tankha, challenging the directions for linking all mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar numbers.