Courts always available for common citizens: SC

It had earlier directed the government not to make Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes.

"Please don't say the court is not available to the common man".

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that there were "inbuilt extensions" in these notifications to help citizens access services and schemes even if they are unable to possess an Aadhaar card by June 30.

The AG also reminded the court of the historic pre-dawn hearing in the apex court in the Yakub Memon matter and said he was called by the court at 2 am for hearing the case.

Child rights activist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha has moved the apex court arguing that some of the schemes for which Aadhaar is mandatory fall outside the purview of the law governing it. She sought an interim stay until the apex court's final verdict on the constitutionality of Aadhaar is decided.

The bench said that the court would not want to deal with the issue in piecemeal and would examine all applications against Aadhaar on June 27.

Appearing for Sinha, senior advocate Shyam Divan said the present PIL was entirely different. In the first round, a bench of three-judges heard the matter.

The petition, filed by Magsaysay award victor Shanta Sinha, argued that mandatory requirement of Aadhaar for these schemes "constrict rights and freedoms which a citizen has always been enjoying unless and until they part with their personal biometric information to the government".

The bench of Justice A.M.Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha was also told that the central government was in breach of its earlier assurance that information (biometric details) furnished by the people at the time of applying for Aadhaar number would not be shared with anyone. Countering the submissions, Rohatgi said, "there was no injunction against Parliament". The Centre had also made it compulsory to link one's Aadhaar to their Permanent Account Number by June 30 this year. However, the bench asked "why this second petition when you have already filed a plea earlier seeking similar relief". However, Divan referred to the government notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of schemes like scholarships, Right to Food and mid-day meal in schools. The apex court, however, had allowed the Centre to seek Aadhaar card voluntarily from citizens fro extending benefits of schemes like LPG subsidy, Jan Dhan scheme and Public Distribution System etc.

Divan is counsel for the main petitioner, the former Karnataka High Court judge Justice K. Puttaswamy, whose challenge to Aadhaar's constitutional validity will be heard by a seven-judge bench.

  • Zachary Reyes