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Supreme Court Refers Aadhar Card Matter to Constitution Bench

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The Supreme Court today referred to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s ambitious scheme to provide Aadhar card to all citizens and decide whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Allowing the Centre’s plea, a three-judge bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde and C Nagappan, framed various questions, including as to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right, to be decided by the larger Constitution Bench.

“If yes, then what would be contours of the right to privacy,” the apex court said while referring the matter to Chief Justice HL Dattu for setting up the larger bench.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, had earlier said that the matters requires elaborate debate and an authoritative pronouncement in view of the fact that there have been inconsistent decisions as to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.

He had cited two judgements, pronounced by six and eight- judge benches, which had held that right to privacy is not a fundamental right.

Subsequently, smaller benches had held contrary view and, hence this matter needed to be decided by a larger bench, AG had said.

“Whether right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India, in the light of express ratio to the contrary by an eight-judge bench in MP Sharma case and also by a six-judge bench of this court in Kharak Singh’s case” has to be decided, he had said.

Earlier, the Centre had sought transfer of pleas against Aadhar to a larger bench, saying that a two-judge or a three- judge bench cannot decide it.

Referring to pronouncements made in historic cases like AK Gopalan, Maneka Gandhi and bank nationalisation, the top law officer had said that inconsistencies with regard to interpretation of certain fundamental rights can only be “squared up” by a larger bench.