7 Judge-Bench Not Yet Set up, Aadhaar Act Validity Case Fails To Make Progress in Supreme Court

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It has been more than two years since the Aadhar Act has been declared constitutional by the Supreme court but its validity is still not set.

What is Aadhaar?

The Aadhaar Act was passed in 2009 and was marketed as the world’s biggest biometric program. This act was managed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It was introduced in order to ensure better implementation of social welfare schemes and subsidy programs.

The scheme was first introduced through an executive notification, it was challenged in the Supreme court for the first time in 2012. In 2016, the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other subsidies, benefits, and services) Act was notified.

The first petition challenging the Aadhar was filed by K.S. Puttaswamy, a retired Karnataka High Court Judge. He primarily asserted that Aadhar violated the fundamental right to privacy.

A Nine judge bench took arguments regarding the constitutional validity of Aadhar heard over 38 days- making it the second-longest hearing case in the Supreme court’s history after the Keshavananda Bharti case.

The 2018 Aadhaar judgment and its aftermath

This was the second landmark judgment. In this judgment, a five-judge bench said that the Parliament was competent to pass the 2016 Act as a money bill under Article 110 of the Constitution. Several review petitions were filed on the same, which included among other things, the Supreme Court’s take on the classification of the Aadhaar bill as a Money Bill.

The review petitions were filed by seven parties asking the court to reverse its decision and strike down the Aadhaar act. The petitioners contended that the 2018 judgment had “errors apparent on the face of the record”. The court was supposed to hear the review petitions on 9 June 2020 but it adjourned the close door hearing on 8 June. It was listed on 25 August, but the order simply said: “not taken up”. These review petitions have been taken up by the bench as frequently as once in two years. The rest remains pending.

In November 2019, a five-judge bench hearing an unrelated case raised doubts on the validity of the 2018 judgement. It doubted the classification of the Aadhaar Bill as the Money bill. Thus, it requested the formation of a seven-judge bench to review the validity of the 2018 judgement. But so far, the seven-judge bench has not been set up yet.


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