The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will resume hearing the Aadhaar case in the first week of November, after Attorney General K K Venugopal informed the apex court that the Centre will extend the deadline to furnish Aadhaar details to avail benefits of various social welfare schemes till December 31.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said there was no urgency to hear the matter after the AG told the bench that the Centre will extend the September 30th deadline.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing various petitioners, mentioned the matter before the bench, also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar, and sought early hearing on the batch of petitions which have also challenged the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of of various social welfare schemes.
When Divan referred to the deadline of September 30, Venugopal said, “We (Centre) will extend it to December 31”. “The urgency is not there. It will be listed in the first week of November,” the bench said.
The court has been hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the 12-digit biometric identification system since 2015. On August 24, a nine-judge constitution bench ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, subject to reasonable restrictions.
“The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution,” the bench observed.
The five-judge constitution bench hearing the Aadhaar-related matters had referred the privacy matter to a larger bench. The nine-judge bench ruling is likely to have an impact on the Aadhaar case as it runs against the government’s stand that privacy is a fundamental right, but a wholly qualified one.
The government has, however, welcomed the court verdict and claimed it had always supported the view that privacy is a fundamental right.
Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, however, expressed surprise over the government’s reaction. He told The Indian Express that “the government should not have diluted their stand in court”.
He added that had he still been in office as Attorney General, he would have admitted that the government had lost the case.
with PTI inputs