The Supreme Court will hear a petition on May 17 seeking to restrain the Centre from making Aadhaar mandatory for social welfare schemes until the apex court adjudicates on the constitutional validity of the unique identification system. The plea was mentioned on Friday before a five-judge constitution bench, which fixed the date of hearing.
Senior counsel Shyam Divan told the court that despite the order of the apex 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. “The matter needed to be heard urgently,’’ said Divan while appearing for one of the petitioners, Shanta Sinha. He urged the court to refer it to the two-judge vacation bench. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar opposed this, saying that a five-judge bench had heard the matter earlier and it would not be appropriate to list the plea before a two-judge bench.
The court is seized of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. But it is yet to constitute the bench that will hear the matter.
A two-judge bench separately reserved its order on a petition challenging the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar cards mandatory for payment of income tax.
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 welfare schemes.