The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that a five-judge Constitution bench will hear matters related to the Aadhaar on July 18 and 19 including the aspect of right to privacy.
The matter was mentioned before a bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud which said that its five-judge Constitution Bench will hear Aadhaar-related matters.
Attorney General KK Venugopal and senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners who have challenged government's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for various public welfare schemes, jointly mentioned the matter before the bench and requested that there should be an early hearing by the Constitution Bench in the matter.
When Justice Khehar asked Venugopal and Divan as to whether the matter was to be heard by a seven-judge Constitution Bench, both the parties said that it has to be heard by a five-judge bench.
The Attorney General and Divan mentioned the matter before the CJI as a three-judge bench had on 7 July said that all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench and the CJI would take a call on the need for setting up a Constitution Bench.
It was in August 2015 that the Supreme Court (SC) referred to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's ambitious scheme to provide Aadhaar card to all citizens and decide whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, had said that the matter requires elaborate debate and an authoritative pronouncement in view of the fact that there have been inconsistent decisions as to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.
He had cited two judgments, pronounced by six and eight- judge benches, which had held that right to privacy is not a fundamental right.
Subsequently, smaller benches had held contrary view and, hence this matter needed to be decided by a larger bench, the attorney general had said.
After the matter was referred to a constitution bench, smaller benches have been taking up issues relating to Aadhaar time and again and were also passing orders.
On 27 June, a three-judge bench of the SC had refused to pass an interim order against the Centre's notification making the Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of social welfare schemes after the government assured it that no one would be deprived for want of this identification.
Earlier, the apex court had passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their welfare schemes.
The apex court, however, had allowed the Centre to seek Aadhaar card voluntarily from citizens for extending benefits of schemes like LPG subsidy, Jan Dhan scheme and Public Distribution System.
Once the Constitution Bench decides on the right to privacy issue, all other cases related the Aadhaar is expected to be resolved.