New Delhi, October 8: The central government on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to constitute a constitution bench to hear its plea to allow use of Aadhaar card for the disbursal of benefits under various social welfare schemes and also in banking and fincial transactions. As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi asked the bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra to constitute a larger bench to hear their plea for “clarification/modification” of the August 11 order, the court said it was “very difficult” to constitute a larger bench for an early hearing. Chief Justice Dattu said that it was difficult to spare nine judges to hear the plea as it would adversely affect the working of other courts. He said he would consider the plea by Friday evening.
The attorney general mentioned the matter after the bench of Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice C. gappan on Wednesday referred a batch of applications, by the government and other agencies, seeking use of Aadhaar card on a voluntary basis, to a larger bench as it refused to relax its August 11 interim order. The apex court had restricted the use of Aadhaar card for distribution of foodgrain under PDS, and supply of kerosene oil and cooking gas only.
By its August 11 order, the court referred to a larger bench the question whether right to privacy was a fundamental right - an issue rooted in the conflicting judgments of the apex court. The question whether right to privacy is a fundamental right is core to the challenge to Adhaar scheme. The order had come on a batch of petitions including by Kartaka High Court’s former judge, Justice K.S. Puttaswamy, who contended that the biometric data that was being collected for the issuance of Aadhaar card violated the fundamental right to privacy of the citizens as persol data was not protected, and was vulnerable to exposure and misuse. The apex court by its 1954 judgment by a bench of eight judges and later in 1964 by a bench of six judges had held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right but from 1975 onwards, smaller two or three judges’ bench elevated the right to privacy as a fundamental right. (IANS)