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Supreme Court sends fresh Aadhaar plea to larger Constitution bench

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-05-2017 Apurva Vishwanath

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sent a fresh plea challenging the Aadhaar Act and mandatory use of the unique identification number in at least 17 government schemes to a larger Constitution bench.

“We think it is appropriate for the larger bench to pass orders even on interim relief as it was done last time,” a bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

In August 2015, a three-judge bench referred the issue of whether an Indian citizen enjoys a fundamental right to privacy to a larger Constitution bench. After 18 months, the bench is yet to be constituted.

The court also granted liberty to the petitioners to mention urgency in setting up a larger bench before chief justice J.S. Khehar.

The chief justice, also the administrative head of the court, is responsible to constitute benches.

Child rights activist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha has moved the apex court arguing that some of the schemes for which Aadhaar is mandatory fall outside the purview of the Aadhaar law.

Justice Sikri recorded in his order that the enrolment deadline in many schemes is 30 June and that the larger bench must be set up at the earliest.

“These are serious issues and agree that it must be heard immediately,” justice Sikri said in an oral observation.

Last week, the same bench reserved its verdict in petitions challenging the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing income-tax returns (ITRs) as well as for obtaining and retaining Permanent Account Number (PAN).

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