New Delhi, December 13The Supreme Court on Wednesday said a five-judge constitution bench would hear on Thursday pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s decision directing mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various government schemes and welfare measures.A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said the larger bench would sit at 2 pm on Thursday to take up the interlocutory applications seeking interim relief against the Centre’s decision on linking of Aadhaar with various schemes.The Centre had on December 7 told the apex court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail various services and welfare schemes would shortly be extended till March 31 next year.
On November 27, the apex court had said it might consider setting up a constitution bench to hear pleas challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for availing various services and benefits of welfare schemes.It had on October 30 said a constitution bench would commence hearing on the clutch of petitions against the Aadhaar scheme from the last week of November.Recently, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had claimed it violated privacy rights.The Centre had on October 25 told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes had been extended till March 31, 2018, for those who did not have the 12-digit unique biometric identification number and were willing to enrol for it.The Attorney General had told the court that no coercive action would be taken against those who did not have the Aadhaar card but are willing to enrol for it. He had said such people would not be denied the benefits of social welfare schemes till March 31.In a note to the court, the government had said that “those who have Aadhaar are required to seed/link their Aadhaar with SIM card, with bank account, PAN card and other schemes where section 7 notifications have been issued”.“The government will be open to the deadline for linking Aadhaar to various programmes being extended for another three months till March 31, 2018 for those who do not have Aadhaar,” the note had said.Some petitioners in the top court have termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as “illegal and unconstitutional”.They have also objected to the CBSE’s alleged move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for students appearing for examinations, a contention denied by the Centre.One of the counsel representing the petitioners had earlier said that final hearing on the main Aadhaar matter was necessary as the government “cannot compel” citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or cell phone numbers. With PTI