New Delhi: The Supreme Court today questioned the West Bengal government for filing a plea challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes. The top court asked how a state can challenge the mandate of Parliament.
“How can a state file such a plea. In a federal structure, how can a state file a plea challenging Parliament’s mandate,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, told the court that the plea has been filed by the labour department of the state as subsidies under these schemes have to be given by them.
“You satisfy us how the state has challenged it. We know it is a matter which needs consideration,” the bench said adding the Centre’s move can be challenged by an individual but not by states.
“Let Mamata Banerjee come and file a plea as individual. We will entertain it as she will be an individual,” the top court said.
However, Sibal maintained that the state was entitled to file such a plea but said that they would amend the prayer in the petition. Meanwhile, the bench issued notice to the Centre on a separate plea filed by an individual challenging the linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar. The court has asked the Centre to file its response on the plea in four weeks.
The West Bengal government challenged the provision which says that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended.
Earlier, the Centre had told the apex 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. It had said that the deadline extension from December end till March 31, 2018, would apply only to those who do not have Aadhaar and are willing to enrol for it.
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.