The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that they would extend till December 31, the deadline to furnish Aadhaar for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes.
Attorney General K K Venugopal made the submission that the current deadline of September 30 has been shifted to December-end after some of the petitioners, who have challenged the government’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of these schemes, mentioned the matter before the court.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners, told the apex court that a nine-judge constitution bench had recently declared right to privacy a fundamental right and now a batch of Aadhaar related petitions should be taken up for hearing by an appropriate bench.
When he referred to the September 30 deadline to give Aadhaar for availing these benefits, the Attorney General said the government would extend it to December 31.
“We (Centre) have said we will extend it to December 31,” Venugopal told the bench which also comprised Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar.
The bench thereafter said that the batch of petitions on the Aadhaar issue would be taken up for hearing in the first week of November.
“Urgency is not there. The Attorney General is saying that it will be extended. It (petitions) will be listed in the first week of November,” the bench said.
Divan referred to the privacy judgment penned by Justice R F Nariman’s separate but concurring verdict and contended that the judge had said that matters relating to Aadhaar be sent back for adjudication on merits by a bench of three judges.
However, the Attorney General requested the bench that these matters be sent for adjudication by a five-judge bench, considering the importance of the issues involved in it.
Venugopal said since the deadline would be extended till December 31, there was no urgency in hearing the matter and it could be taken up in November.
Divan did not oppose Venugopal’s submission and said he has no objection if the matter would be heard in November. Initially, a three-judge bench had on July 7 said that all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench.
On July 12, the apex court had said that its five-judge Constitution Bench will hear the matters relating to Aadhaar, including the aspect of right to privacy.
Thereafter, the five-judge bench had constituted a nine- judge bench to decide on whether the right to privacy could be declared a fundamental right.
In a historic judgment on August 24, a nine-judge constitution bench had declared the right to privacy as a fundamental right saying it is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
Various petitions have been filed in the apex court challenging the government's move making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes.
The apex court had earlier passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their welfare schemes.
It, however, had allowed the Centre to seek Aadhaar card voluntarily from citizens for extending benefits of schemes like the LPG subsidy, Jan Dhan scheme and public distribution system.