Aadhaar card linking deadline postponed; SC extends cut-off date until it delivers final verdict on constitutionality
The Supreme Court of India has extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar Card to banking services and telephone or mobile phone connections till the time a verdict is announced on the issue.
The Supreme Court has extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar to banking services, telephone or mobile phone connections till the time it announces a verdict on the issue. The Supreme Court also noted that the Aadhaar Card would only be necessary for social welfare schemes and not other consumer services such as a getting a mobile phone connection.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan is hearing a case relating to the constitutional validity of the government's Aadhaar scheme.
The Constitution Bench is hearing challenges to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the touchstone of the fundamental Right to Privacy on a slew of petitions by former Karnataka High Court judge KS Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon and others.
The order came as senior counsel Arvind Datar, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the court that passport issuing authorities have made submission of Aadhaar mandatory for issuance of passports.
At this point, Attorney General KK Venugopal sought to clarify that this requirement of Aadhaar was only for issuance of 'tatkal' passports.
The court order also extended this extension to the issuance of passports.
On 7 March, the Supreme Court directed the CBSE not to make Aadhaar number mandatory for enrolment of students appearing in NEET 2018 and other all India exams. The order came after CBSE decided to seek the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment number from students aspiring to take up the NEET 2018 examination.
On 15 December, the apex court extended till 31 March the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes.
On 22 February, former Karnataka High Court judge Justice KS Puttaswamy told the apex court several deaths reportedly occurred due to starvation on account of glitches in the Aadhaar-based public distribution system and the court must consider granting them compensation.
Earlier, the top court observed that the alleged defect of citizens' biometric details under the Aadhaar scheme being collected without any law could be cured by subsequently bringing a statute.
It said that the Centre came out with the law in 2016 to negate the objection that it was collecting data since 2009 without any authorisation, but the issue which needed consideration was what would happen if the data collected earlier, had been compromised.
Earlier in the course of the arguments, senior counsel P. Chidambaram told the court that it could look into the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker in allowing Aadhaar Bill to be tabled as a Money Bill.
Noting that under the Constitution's Article 122, the decision of the Speaker that a Bill is a Money Bill was "final" and mere procedural irregularities would not stand in the way of the decision, he argued that the Speaker's decision was final only in respect of Lok Sabha and does not interdict the court from looking at it if the decision is coupled with illegality and unconstitutionality.
Appearing for Congress's Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh who has challenged the introduction of Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill, Chidambaram, who continued his arguments from the last hearing on March 7, said that to declare a bill as a Money Bill even though it is not was a procedure that violated the Constitution's basis structure, thus the power of judicial review is not taken away.
He told the court that declaring as Bill as a Money Bill strikes at the root of federalism as it eclipses the powers of the Rajya Sabha which represents the collective wisdom of the states.
Telling the court that when a Bill goes beyond the provisions of Article 110, it besmears a Finance Bill and Money Bill is a "very narrow small text of the Finance Bill", Chidambaram said that by declaring Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill not only denuded Rajya Sabha of its power to scrutinise the Aadhaar Bill, but took away the power of the President to return a Bill for reconsideration.
The court was told that only those bills meeting the requirements specified under sub-clause (a) to (f) of clause (1) of Article 110, or any matter which is incidental to these sub-clauses, can be introduced as Money Bill.
With inputs of agencies
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