5 judges to hear Aadhaar validity pleas

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has referred a large number of petitions questioning the validity of Aadhaar to a five-judge Constitution bench, which will commence hearing in the last week of November.

Attorney General K K Venugopal said the deadline for linking Aadhaar with benefits to be received under central welfare schemes, including essential commodities under public distribution system, was extended to March 31 and no one would be deprived of benefits for want of Aadhaar till then.

Citizens are being helped to enrol for Aadhaar by then, he said. Aadhaar has been challenged on the ground that it violates a citizen's right to privacy. However, the Centre had raised objection that an eight-judge bench had ruled more than half a century ago that right to privacy was not a fundamental right and hence no writ petition could be filed to challenge Aadhaar on the ground of violation of a right. However, a nine-judge bench unanimously ruled that right to privacy was a fundamental right and formed an intrinsic part of right to life guaranteed under Article 21. At the same time, it recognised the need to ensure that benefits under social welfare schemes reaching the targeted population through an identification system.

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