Aadhaar: 5-judge bench to pronounce interim order tomorrow; Final hearing to begin on January 17

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY CHandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, after hearing the counsels at length, said that it will pronounce the interim order on the issue of linking Aadhaar Number to Bank Accounts, Mobile Numbers, etc, tomorrow.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan brought all the interim orders to the Court’s notice that said that no person should suffer for not having an Aadhaar card, till the case is heard and decided. He also brought to the Court’s notice that the Government had made the Aadhaar mandatory for 139 schemes including rehabilitation of bonded labour, mid-day meals for children, school admissions, scholarships, etc. He said:

“if people are being deprived of retroviral treatment because they don’t have an Aadhaar, it is a sad day for the country.”

Attorney General KK Venugopal, on the other hand, said that the arguments advanced Shyam Divan were not in the pleadings. He also said that in the Aadhaar/PAN judgement it has already been held that the earlier orders have been overridden by an Act.

Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium submitted before the Court:

“This Court has exercised judicial power in favour of citizens, to insulate them against compulsion, duress, or any form of force through which they would have to part with their personal information. That is the spirit of this Court’s orders. All the orders have one pattern. The reason why this Court specifically asked the government to comply was because there were numerous violations. There were cases of exclusion. Cases of compulsion. That’s why interim orders were passed.”

Stating that  Central Government has passed 139 notifications under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, he asked whether Section 7 can authorise a compulsion contrary to the orders of the Court.

Adding to argument, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar said even if it was assumed that Aadhaar can be made compulsory under Section 7, it can only be done for services paid for by the Consolidated Fund and that making Aadhaar compulsory for death certificate or exam hall tickets was a ‘clear overreach’.

Examples of data leaks were also presented before the Court and that an RTI has been filed asking about which companies have been given the data but it has not yet been answered.

Attorney General again submitted before the Court that the deadline for linking Aadhaar can be extended to March 31, 2018 except in case of new accounts.

Before rising, CJI said that he will decide whether new bank accounts have to be linked with Aadhaar. The Bench said it will pronounce the interim order tomorrow and that the final hearing in the matter begin from January 17, 2018.

Source: https://twitter.com/gautambhatia88

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