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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday came down hard on the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government for challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and emphasised that a state cannot challenge a law passed by the Union government.
“The controversy over Aadhaar needs examination but state government can’t file petition against a law passed by Parliament,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.
The bench directed the chief minister to approach the court in an individual capacity if she wishes to challenge the provision which said that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended.
“Individual can file petition against the Act but not a state government. Let CM Mamata Banerjee file plea as a citizen and we will hear her petition,” the bench pronounced.
The Supreme Court also issued a notice to the central government on plea challenging mandatory linking of Aadhaar number with mobile connections and ordered it to file its response in four weeks time.
Following the apex court’s chastisement, the West Bengal government agreed to modify its petition by not challenging the Aadhaar law and to confine itself to the labour ministry’s notification on linking of Aadhaar.
Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha chief whip and senior advocate Kalyan Banerjee had previously said the writ petition challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes had been filed sometime ago and would come up for hearing before the bench on October 30.
At a party meeting in Kolkata on October 25, Mamata had also opposed the linking of Aadhaar with mobile phone number, saying “Aadhaar number should not be linked with one’s mobile phone. I will not link my Aadhaar number with my mobile even if my connection is snapped.”
On the same day, the Centre had told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of various government schemes has been extended till March 31 next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number.
Several petitions, challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes and notifications to link it with mobile numbers and bank accounts, are pending in the apex court.
(With inputs from PTI)