Supreme Court Declines Early Hearing of Aadhaar Case

In oral observations, the court also noted Aadhaar can’t be made mandatory for social welfare schemes but could be required for non-welfare schemes.

A view of the Supreme Court building in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters

A view of the Supreme Court building in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant an early hearing of a petition that will look into whether the Aadhaar identity scheme violates a citizen’s right to privacy.

It did so after the “Aadhaar batch matters”, a clutch of writ petitions, were mentioned by senior advocate Shyam Divan before a bench headed by chief justice of India J.S. Khehar and justices D.Y. Chandrachud and S.K. Kaul.

Divan, who was appearing on behalf of petitioner K. Puttaswamy, alleged that the Centre was not following the Supreme Court’s earlier orders on keeping Aadhaar voluntary. He sought the setting up of a constitution bench for the final hearing of the main petitions and the listing of interlocutory applications to stay the provisions and government notifications issued under the Aadhaar Act.

However, the chief justice of India declined to mention a date for the listing of petitions for final disposal. The court also refused a directed listing of the interlocutory applications for the stay of the Aadhaar Act or similar reliefs.

According to PTI, the bench pointed out that a larger, seven-judge bench needed to be constituted to rule on the batch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme. However, the CJI-headed bench expressed its inability to set up the larger bench, saying it would be decided at a later stage.

Oral observations

However, in a series of oral observations, while trying to understand the nature of the court’s earlier orders and restraints, the Supreme Court  noted that the government cannot be stopped from requiring Aadhaar cards for non-welfare schemes like opening or connecting bank accounts.

It also observed that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory for social welfare schemes. However, as a release from the Rethink Aadhaar project noted, “there was no formal order issued by the Hon’ble Court” and that these are merely oral observations.