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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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SC Warned Amrapali Directors, says “Would Be Rendered Homeless If Tried To Play Smart”

The company Directors were asked to file affidavits within 15 days listing their movable and immovable properties.

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The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore. Wikimedia Commons
The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore. Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Directors of the Amrapali Group to file details of all their movable and immovable assets along with valuation, and warned them that they would be rendered homeless if they tried “to play smart.”

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U.U. Lalit clarified that all the properties of the directors would be sold if the company failed to raise Rs 5,112 crore required to complete its unfinished housing projects.

The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore.

The company Directors were asked to file affidavits within 15 days listing their movable and immovable properties.

"Don't burden the home-buyers. Don't try to be smart. Tell your Directors also," the bench told the counsel. Wikimedia Commons
“Don’t burden the home-buyers. Don’t try to be smart. Tell your Directors also,” the bench told the counsel. Wikimedia Commons

When the company’s counsel Gaurav Bhatia told the court that home-buyers will also pay to help it raise Rs 5,112 crore, the court said: “The home-buyers will not pay a penny.”

“Don’t burden the home-buyers. Don’t try to be smart. Tell your Directors also,” the bench told the counsel.

“Tell us how you intend to arrange the money? Otherwise, you will be rendered homeless,” the bench said.

The court told the Directors that as they had made buyers wait for their homes, they will also search for their homes if they don’t submit the plan to arrange for money for the unfinished projects.

“Days are not away when you (Directors) will compel us to do this. If necessary, we will take every strip (of land) if you compel us. Next time, come (to the court) with the proposal,” the top court observed.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers. Wikimedia Commons
The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers. Wikimedia Commons

When the court was told that electricity supply at two projects of Amrapali — Zodiac and Silicon Valley — has been disconnected, it ordered the power companies concerned to restore electricity by Wednesday itself.

The court posted the matter for August 14.

On August 1, the court slammed the Amrapali Group for playing “fraud and dirty games” with it and ordered freezing of bank accounts of all the Directors of its 40 firms, besides attaching their personal properties.

Public sector undertaking National Building Construction Corporation was also directed to take over all 16 unfinished projects of the Amrapali Group.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers.

Also Read: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea challenging polygamy, nikah halala

The apex court has been hearing a batch of pleas filed by home-buyers who have sought quashing of the National Company Law Tribunal order to admit insolvency proceedings against the Amrapali Group.

The buyers belong to low and middle income groups and must be granted equal protection as other stakeholders, the financial and operational creditors, the home buyers’ plea said. (IANS)