The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a series of review petitions filed against the judgement of the Constitution Bench in the Aadhaar case, reported Live Law. The top court passed the order with a 4:1 majority.
“We have perused the review petitions as well as the grounds in support thereof,” the court order said. “In our opinion, no case for review of judgment and order dated 26.09.2018 is made out. We hasten to add that change in the law or subsequent decision/judgement of a coordinate or larger bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review.”
The Supreme Court bench was comprised of Justices AM Khanwilkar, S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, and DY Chandrachud. Among them Justice Chandrachud voiced dissent in the dismissal of the review pleas, according to Live Law.
In its September 2018 judgement, the Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme, and upheld most of the provisions of the Act. However, the court had said that phone numbers and bank accounts do not need to be linked with Aadhaar. “It follows that authentication under Section 7 would be required as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service only when such a subsidy, benefit or service is taken care of by Consolidated Fund of India,” it added.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the pleas should remain pending until the larger bench decided the questions “referred to it in Rojer Mathew”. In his 2018 dissent, Chandrachud had called the entire Aadhaar project “unconstitutional”.
Justice Chandrachud’s dissent came in view of the fact that another Constitution Bench of the court while hearing a case on the validity of the Finance Act (Rojer Mathew vs South Indian Bank Ltd) had said that the Aadhaar verdict did not highlight the law correctly regarding what constitutes a “money bill” under the Constitution, reported Bar and Bench. In 2017, the Aadhaar Act and the Finance Act were passed as money bills, which would not require its passage in the Parliament.
In the Rojer Mathew case, the court had referred the legal problems related to the implementation of the bills to a larger bench.
“If these review petitions are to be dismissed and the larger bench reference in Rojer Mathew were to disagree with the analysis of the majority opinion in Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J), it would have serious consequences – not just for judicial discipline, but also for the ends of justice,” Justice Chandrachud said, according to Bar and Bench. “As such, the present batch of review petitions should be kept pending until the larger bench decides the questions referred to it in Rojer Mathew.”
Chandrachud also said it is a constitutional error to say at this stage that no ground exists to review the judgement.
The new rules, notified under the Aadhaar Act, state that authentication of the unique identification by entities is allowed “in the interest of good governance, preventing leakage of public funds, promoting ease of living of residents and enabling better access to services for them”.