In Re: CJI’s Observations on AADHAR

As per the news reports, the SC has observed that it can’t stop the government from making AADHAR mandatory for services like bank accounts, income tax returns, etc. This is because the earlier order of the SC bars AADHAR from being made mandatory only for government welfare schemes. Well…this is what the earlier order of the SC says:

1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card.

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.

3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme.

4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique 15 Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.

From the above, it is pretty clear that AADHAR can’t be made mandatory even for bank accounts, income tax returns, mobile connections, driving licenses, etc, because it is just not mandatory for citizens to obtain AADHAR.

Actually, the above is not the observation from the SC but from the CJI during urgent mentioning of the matter before the CJI. This observation remains unexplained but I won’t give much importance to it because it has not been made while discussing merits of the case. Though it’s a different matter that when the matter is pending adjudication why should such remarks flow out during urgent mentioning. This is the second such instance in this fortnight. The first being the observation made during the mentioning in the Babri Masjid case. In both the cases, complex issues of law are pending adjudication, but the CJI has made such observations during urgent mentioning! Why? Is this not appropropriation of powers of the SC by the CJI? Why is media reporting it as an observation from the SC when it is just an observation of an individual judge made during urgent mentioning without consideration of the merits of the case? Isn’t media committing contempt by attributing non-contextual observations of the CJI to the whole SC?

Disclaimer: My comments above are based on news reports. I have not heard the CJI in person.

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Ankur Mutreja is an advocate-cum-writer, and his blogs are amongst his modes of expression. He has also authored six books: "Kerala Hugged"; "Light: Philosophy"; "Flare: Opinions"; "Sparks: Satire and Reviews"; "Writings @ Ankur Mutreja"; and "Nine Poems"; which can be downloaded free from the links on the top menu.

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