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SC may refer challenge to Aadhaar to constitutional bench

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New Delhi The supreme Court on Wednesday indicated it might refer to a larger bench a bunch of petitions seeking the scrapping of the Aadhaar scheme since it violated the privacy of individuals as the biometric data on it was vulnerable to exposure.
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“We are inclined to refer it to the larger constitutional bench,” an apex court bench of Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice C. Nagappan observed as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the challenge to Aadhaar was primarily on grounds of violation of privacy and there were divergent views of the apex court on it.

“Don’t you think if you have divergence of views on right to privacy, should it not be referred to the five-judge bench,” Justice Chelameswar asked senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for the main petitioner and former Karnataka High Court judge Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd).

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said an eight-judge bench and later a six-judge bench in two separate cases held that privacy was not a fundamental right, but in nearly 25 judgments subsequently by smaller benches privacy came to be recognised and cemented as part of the fundamental rights under Article 21.

Rohatgi said even the framers of the Constitution did not think of privacy as a fundamental right.

Urging the bench to refer the matter to the five-judge Constitution bench in the light of divergence of views emerging from different judgments, the Attorney General requested the apex court to see the interplay of the right of those seeking scrapping of the Aadhaar scheme with 700 million people whose subsidies and social welfare schemes benfits were dependent on the “foolproof Aadhaar scheme”.

He said that some petitioners were demanding scrapping of some provisions of the Citizenship Act as they insisted on biometric tests.

Referring to other petitions before the court, challenging the Aadhaar Scheme, the Attorney General said it would impact the issuance of driving licences, passports, the National Population Register and other things that matter to the citizens even otherwise.

He said the scheme was necessary as the country was battling the problem of illegal migrants.

Rohatgi’s plea was supported by senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre for Civil Societies, a group of intellectuals and thinkers.

Appearing for Justice Puttaswamy (retd), senior counsel Shyam Divan told the court that with the passage of time there was growth and evolution of law, ideas and attitudes.

“Privacy is core to the civilisation. It is a pillar of society,” he contended.

Trying to drive home the point of judicial discipline in the growth of law, Justice Chelameswar said, “Individually, we are not against the growth and evolution of law. But it has to be in accordance with judicial discipline.” Thereby, he pointed out that it were eight-judge and later six-judge benches that held that privacy was not a fundamental right.

Divan countered the Attorney General by saying, “If the union is not contesting the position that Indians have a right to privacy under the fundamental rights of the Constitution, where is the occasion to refer the challenge to the Aadhaar scheme to a five-judge bench.”

Justice Puttaswamy moved the court in 2012 and contended that the entire Aadhaar scheme was unconstitutional as the biometric data collected under it was an incursion and transgression of individual privacy.

IANS

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Supreme Court Signals Out Automobiles Cause Much More Pollution Than Burning Firecrackers

Making it clear that it does not want to generate "unemployment", the court said those who would lose their livelihood can't be compensated in terms of alternate jobs, financial or other support if the firecracker industry was shut down.

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air pollution
Linking the plea for a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country with Article 19 (1)(g) guaranteeing the right to occupation, trade or business, a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde flagged the issue of loss of jobs if there was a clampdown on the firecracker manufacturing industry. Pixabay

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why firecrackers were being singled out for rising pollution levels when automobiles caused much more pollution. It asked the Centre to apprise it with a comparative study of the two.

Linking the plea for a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country with Article 19 (1)(g) guaranteeing the right to occupation, trade or business, a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde flagged the issue of loss of jobs if there was a clampdown on the firecracker manufacturing industry.

Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution guarantees the right “to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”.

crackers
Observing how there can be a ban on the firecracker industry whose operations were legal and licensed, Justice Bobde said the way out was not cancelling the license but there could be a change in the licensing conditions.
Pixabay

Sitting along with Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, Justice Bobde said the issue had not been examined on the touchstone of Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution.

Making it clear that it does not want to generate “unemployment”, the court said those who would lose their livelihood can’t be compensated in terms of alternate jobs, financial or other support if the firecracker industry was shut down.

Observing how there can be a ban on the firecracker industry whose operations were legal and licensed, Justice Bobde said the way out was not cancelling the license but there could be a change in the licensing conditions.

crackers
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why firecrackers were being singled out for rising pollution levels when automobiles caused much more pollution. Pixabay

The top court’s observations came in the course of hearing a PIL by a toddler — Arjun Gopal — seeking ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country.

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Noting the work being done by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to produce green firecrackers, the top court had in its last order asked NEERI and PESO to stick the timeline culminating in the bulk production of firecrackers based on the new formulations by May 10, 2019.

The top court had in October 2018 permitted the use of only green firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels during all religious festivals. (IANS)