Aadhaar case: Supreme Court sets up 9-judge bench

Aadhaar case: Supreme Court sets up 9-judge bench

A nine-judge Supreme Court bench on July 20 will hear the Aadhaar related petitions.

Earlier the supreme court had agreed to set up a 5 judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and Abdul Nazeer, will examine a plethora of issues arising out of the Centre's 12-digit biometric identification number.

The SC order said (paraphrased): "It has become essential for us to determine whether there is a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution".

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While the Kharak Singh judgement was delivered by a six- judge bench in 1960, the M P Sharma verdict was reported in 1950 and was delivered by an eight-judge Constitution bench.

Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court in 2015 that Indian citizens don't have a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution. To which, Venugopal pointed out that a five-judge bench could not decide the correctness of the Kharak Singh case and that it would require either a a bench of seven or nine judges to decide.

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The Attorney Genral cited the 1963 case Kharak Singh vs State of UP to reiterate that there is no right to privacy under Article 19 (1)(d) and Article 21 of the Constitution.

The matter will be heard out tomorrow by the 9-judge Bench, with the petitioners arguing from 10.30 am to 1 pm, and the State from 2 to 4 pm.

If the nine-judge bench decides that privacy is a fundamental right then all cases relating to the Aadhaar scheme will go back to the original three-judge bench. "If this court feels that there must be clarity on this subject, only a Constitution Bench can decide", the AG had said.

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

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