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Aadhaar case: Constitution Bench hearing on 18, 19 July

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-07-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on Wednesday set up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear arguments on whether Aadhaar, the unique ID number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI), violates the right to privacy.

The bench will also decide if the issue should be heard by a larger bench.

Should the bench rule on the case and opt against a larger bench, it will decide the future of Aadhaar, which has increasingly become the backbone of the government’s welfare schemes, its tax administration network, and also financial transactions. It will also decide whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right in India.

Several cases related to Aadhaar have been referred to a Constitution Bench; the first was referred around two years ago.

The hearing is to last for only two days.

The chief justice’s decision came after a 12 July plea by Shyam Divan, who has appeared in several cases related to Aadhaar, arguing against the unique ID number, and Attorney general K.K. Vengugopal seeking the creation of a Constitution Bench. It also comes a week after Justice Jasti Chelmeshwar said that all matters related to Aadhaar should be addressed by a Constitution Bench.

Last month, the court upheld the government’s decision to link Aadhaar with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) for filing of income-tax returns, but ruled that non-compliance with the law will carry no retrospective consequences.

Under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the unique identity number is mandatory only to receive social welfare benefits.

In August 2015, a three-judge bench had referred the question of whether an Indian citizen enjoys the fundamental right to privacy to a larger Constitution bench.

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