New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on May 17 a plea challenging various notifications by the Centre making the Aadhaar card mandatory for availing benefits of government schemes.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, which is currently hearing a batch of petitions challenging the practice of triple talaq, agreed to the contention of senior advocate Shyam Divan that the Aadhaar matter is very important and needs to be heard urgently.
“Despite the order of this court that Aadhaar will be voluntary and not mandatory, the government has been coming out with a series of notifications making it mandatory to avail benefits of schemes like scholarships, Right to Food and mid-day meal in schools,” argued Divan, appearing for Shanta Sinha, former chairperson of National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), one of the petitioners in the Aadhaar matter.
He said that a two-judge bench should hear the applications against making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes.
Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, vehemently contested the submission, saying that interim orders in the Aadhaar matter had been passed by a five-judge bench, and hence it would not be appropriate to for a two-judge bench to hear the plea.
The solicitor general also argued that the petitioner had not informed the court that after the Supreme Court passed various orders making Aadhaar voluntary, the central government had brought out a new legislation.
Several petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar are pending in the apex court and will be heard by a five-judge constitution bench, yet to be set up by the chief justice.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their welfare schemes.
The apex court, however, had allowed the Centre to make it mandatory for citizens to have an Aadhaar card to access schemes like LPG subsidy, Jan Dhan and the Public Distribution System, among others.