Hearing Update: Shantha Sinha & Anr. v. Union of India; June 27th, 2017

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, heard the petition against notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for social welfare schemes [Shantha Sinha & Anr. v. Union of India (W.P. (C) 342/2017)] for the grant of interim relief. You can read the summary from the previous hearing here.

The hearing started with the Additional Solicitor General seeking an adjournment of the matter for responding to the rejoinder filed by the petitioners. Referring to an Office Memorandum issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on June 22, 2017, which extended the deadline to enroll for Aadhaar for availing various benefits till September 30, 2017, he argued that there was no burning urgency anymore to hear the matter.

The counsel for petitioners, Mr. Shyam Divan,did not oppose the request for adjournment, however, he contended that the said memorandum extended the deadlines only for those beneficiaries who did not have Aadhaar. Those having an Aadhaar number are still required to furnish it after June 30th in order to avail benefits of the schemes. Therefore, he requested that, an order be passed to the effect that no one would be deprived of the benefits of the schemes for non-production of Aadhaar number till the next date of hearing.

However, the court said that it cannot issue any interim order or mandamus on mere apprehensions. It asked the petitioners if they had any evidence to show that such exclusions had taken place since the issue of the notifications, where people were deprived of the benefits to which they were entitled. The court said that it would take such evidence as a test for urgency. To this, Mr. Divan replied that such exclusions would took place only after the deadline of June 30th, and that it is imperative for all the beneficiaries to be protected irrespective of whether they possess an Aadhaar number or not.

The court, in its order, noted that in view of paragraph 90 of the judgment in Aadhaar-PAN case, which categorically states that enrolment to the Aadhaar is not compulsory, no further observation is required.

The court directed the respondent to file its response to the rejoinder within a week and listed the matter on July 7th, 2017 for further hearing.

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