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SC allows West Bengal to amend plea challenging Aadhaar notification

Mamata Banerjee government to challenge rule that makes Aadhaar must for govt schemes.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2017 23:20 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Aadhaar,West Bengal
had pulled up the West Bengal government for questioning the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar must.(Sonu Mehta/HT pHOTO)

West Bengal government has decided to challenge Centre’s notification that makes Aadhaar mandatory for receiving benefits of social welfare schemes. The move comes a fortnight after the state suffered a setback when the Supreme Court pulled it up for questioning the validity of the law on the unique identity number.

The top court allowed the state on Friday to amend its petition after senior advocate Kalyan Banerjee informed a bench led by Justice AK Sikri that the government had decided to drop its original prayer with a specific challenge. However, it did not issue notice on his oral request and said the same can be done only after the changes are made formally.

Banerjee later told HT that there were three notifications, which the state will assail before the top court. “All three relate to withdrawing welfare subsidies from those who don’t have Aadhaar,” he said.

SC had in the last hearing said that chief minister Mamata Banerjee was free to file a petition in her individual capacity challenging the Aadhaar, but the state cannot do so in a federal structure. In the original petition, West Bengal had sought to declare certain provisions of the law ultra vires. But the SC had cautioned the state from going ahead with the petition. It said such a dispute could lead to a constitutional chaos if states start challenging central laws or vice versa.

Meanwhile, the same bench allowed a Dubai-based NRI to intervene before the constitution bench that would be set up to hear petitions against the Aadhaar law. Those who have filed the cases have claimed that the legislation is a violation of their privacy – now a fundamental right after a nine-judge bench declared it so – because it involved collection of biometric details.

Shinoj K Narayanan has claimed millions of NRIs like him were facing problems because the Aadhaar Act allowed only Indian residents to enrol for the unique identity.

However, amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Rules make it mandatory for opening bank accounts, maintaining existing bank accounts and for financial transactions of and above ₹50,000. Existing bank account holders have time till December 31, 2017 to link Aadhaar failing which their accounts will become inoperative.

“Making it must for non-residents to link the Aadhaar number with the bank account is illegal, illogical and unconstitutional,” Narayanan said in his petition.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 23:20 IST