Supreme Court pulls up West Bengal for plea against Aadhaar-benefits linking

SC asks WB CM Mamata Banerjee to file petition in individual capacity, issues notice to telecom companies, Centre

"The Secretary for the State should come as the party and more specifically, Ms Mamta Banerjee should file the petition". "Let Mamata Banerjee come and file a petition as a citizen", reads the statement of the bench of of A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.

The apex court, however, observed that the Centre's move can only be challenged by an individual, and not by states. Article 32 can not be agitated by a State against the Centre.

"An individual may dislike any law or regulation passed by the central government". Senior advocate Kapil Sibal is representing the West Bengal government. The court asked us to appeal individually.

Mr. Sibal agreed with the court's suggestion to amend the petition.

The court also issued notices to the telecom companies insisting on the mandatory linking of mobile with Aadhaar.

While the Aadhaar card had been introduced by the previous UPA government, the current BJP-led government has been pushing for the card to be mandatory and linked to everything including the pan card, bank account, mobile phones, drivers license and even for children admission into schools. The West Bengal government challenged the provision which says that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended. A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said the larger bench would commence hearing on these petitions in the last week of November this year.

Asking the court not to issue any further interim orders, Venugopal said the government was ready to argue and the court, if deemed fit, could set up a constitution bench to decide on the various Aadhaar petitions.

The validity of Aadhaar law has been challenged by a batch of petitioners, including former Karnataka High Court Judge K.S. Puttaswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, and feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon.

The committee is also considering changes in the Aadhaar Act of 2016 and the Information Technology Act of 2000 as firm steps towards a cast-iron data protection regime.

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