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SC to hear plea challenging Aadhaar notifications on May 17

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on May 17 a plea challenging various government notifications to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of government schemes.

A Bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan on May 9 had refused to consider the plea for an interim order and gave liberty to senior counsel Shyam Divan to mention before the CJI JS Khehar for urgent listing.

“Despite the order of this court that Aadhaar will be voluntary and not mandatory, the government has been coming out with a series of notifications, making it mandatory to avail benefits of schemes like scholarships, Right to Food and mid-day meal in schools,” said Mr. Divan, appearing for Former Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Shanta Sinha, one of the petitioners in the Aadhaar issue.

“A two-judge Bench should hear the applications against making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes,” he added.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar contested the submission, saying that even interim orders in Aadhaar issue has been passed by a five-judge Bench, so it would not be appropriate to list the plea before a two-judge Bench.

Several petitions, challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar are pending in the apex court and would be heard by a Constitution Bench, which is yet to be set up by the Chief Justice of India.

Earlier, the SC had passed a slew of orders asking the government and its agencies not to make Aadhaar mandatory for extending benefits of their welfare schemes.

The apex court, however, had allowed the Centre to seek Aadhaar card voluntarily from citizens for extending benefits of schemes like LPG subsidy, Jan Dhan scheme and Public Distribution System etc.

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