Supreme Court will hear what Hadiya wants in open court on 27 Nov; defers Article 35(A) hearing by 8 weeks; pulls up Mamata govt over Aadhaar plea

The Supreme Court saw an action-packed Monday as it lined up a number of high-profile cases for hearing, ranging from the Aadhaar issue and its implementation, the Kerala love jihad case and Article 35A.

The Aadhaar case relates to the mandatory linking of the biometric ID to government welfare schemes, while in the Kerala Love Jihad case, the top court opened sealed envelopes handed over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The hearing on Article 35A relates to special rights and privileges of the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

While the hearing in the Article 35A case was deferred by three months, the apex court made several notable remarks during the proceedings in the Aadhaar and the Love Jihad case.

'How can state challenge Parliament's mandate on Aadhar?’

In what is a clear setback to the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal, the Supreme Court declined to entertain its petition challenging the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of numerous government welfare schemes. The top court asked how a state can challenge the mandate of Parliament. "How can a state file such a plea. In a federal structure, how can a state file a plea challenging Parliament's mandate," a bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

Supreme Court will hear what Hadiya wants in open court on 27 Nov; defers Article 35(A) hearing by 8 weeks; pulls up Mamata govt over Aadhaar plea

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

According to Live Law, the Bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan said, "The controversy over Aadhaar needs examination but state government can’t file petition against a law passed by Parliament."

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Banerjee-led West Bengal government, told the court that the plea has been filed by the labour department of the state as subsidies under these schemes have to be given by them.

"You satisfy us how the state has challenged it. We know it is a matter which needs consideration," the bench said adding the Centre's move can be challenged by an individual but not by states. Let Banerjee come and file a plea as an individual. We will entertain it as she will be an individual," the top court said.

However, Sibal maintained that the state was entitled to file such a plea but said that they would amend the prayer in the petition. Meanwhile, the bench issued a notice to the Centre on a separate plea filed by an individual challenging the linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.

The court has asked the Centre to file its response on the plea in four weeks. The West Bengal government had challenged the provision which says that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court agreed to hear fresh petitions against linking Aadhaar with mobile phone numbers. Thus opening the door for Banerjee, in an individual capacity, to challenge the move that she has vehemently opposed.

The top court also issued a notice to Centre and asked it to file a response within four weeks, ANI reported. Aadhaar deadline hearing The government is not willing to extend the deadline for Aadhaar.

"We will argue the case," the government told the Supreme Court. The apex judicial body is likely to hear the case in the last week of November. The deadline issue talks of an extension for people who do not have Aadhaar card as of yet and the government giving them the leeway to do so and link all services by 31 March, 2018. The petitioners are contesting why the same should not be extended to those already with Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar matter was mentioned by Attorney-General KK Venugopal, who demanded that the case be heard in March. This was objected to by Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, according to LiveLaw. Gopal Subramanian added that there should be no compulsion for linking various services with Aadhaar if the hearing is postponed.

The petitioners, meanwhile, termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as illegal and unconstitutional and strongly objected to the CBSE's move to make it mandatory for students to appear for exams. Divan, appearing for some of the petitioners, had earlier contended that final hearing in the main Aadhaar matter, which is pending before the apex court, was necessary as the government "cannot compel" citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or mobile numbers.

'Consent of the girl is prime'

The Supreme Court, while hearing the Love Jihad case, directed that Hadiya shall be produced before the top court to ascertain if she, an adult, had married Shafin Jahan out of her own free will after her conversion. The apex court directed the father of the Kerala woman, who had converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, to produce her before it on 27 November. A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, asked senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the father of the woman, to ensure that she is produced that day for interaction with the bench, which is likely to ascertain her mental stage and whether she had given free consent to the marriage.

File photo of Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan. Image courtesy Firstpost Hindi

File photo of Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan. Image courtesy Firstpost Hindi

The National Investigation Agency, represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, said there was well-oiled machinery working in the state and they are indulging in the indoctrination and radicalisation of the society in the state where as many as 89 cases of similar nature have been reported.

Divan, appearing for woman's father KM Ashokan, claimed the alleged husband of his daughter is a radicalised man and several organisations like Popular Front of India (PFI) are involved in the radicalisation of the society. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for her husband Shafin Jahan, opposed the NIA's submission and that of the woman's father.

The woman, a Hindu, had converted to Islam and later married Jahan. It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State's mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge. Jahan had, on 20 September approached the apex court seeking a recall of its 16 August order directing the NIA to investigate the controversial case of conversion and marriage of a Hindu woman with him.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government had on 7 October told the Supreme Court that its police had conducted a "thorough investigation" into her conversion and subsequent marriage to Jahan and did not find material warranting the transfer of probe to the NIA. The apex court said that the "investigation conducted so far by the Kerala police has not revealed any incident relating to the commission of any Scheduled Offences to make a report to the Central Government under Section 6 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2006", according to a Live Law report.

Jahan had moved the apex court after the Kerala High Court annulled his marriage, saying it was an insult to the independence of women in the country.


Follow LIVE updates on the Supreme Court hearings here

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 31, 2017 08:03:46 IST

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