The Supreme Court on Monday hauled up the West Bengal government, led by Mamata Banerjee, for challenging the Aadhaar Act – a central law passed by Parliament. Pointing out that it went against the federal structure of India, the court asked “how can a state file such a plea?”
A bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan was hearing the state’s petition against Aadhaar being made mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes.
“The controversy over Aadhaar needs examination but a state government can’t file a petition against a law passed by Parliament. An individual can file a petition against the Act but not a state government. Let CM Mamata Banerjee file a plea as a citizen and we will hear her petition,” the SC said, according to The Indian Express.
The court did issue notice to the central government on a separate plea filed by an individual challenging the linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar, and asked it to file its response in four weeks.
The West Bengal government has agreed to modify its petition by not challenging the Aadhaar law and to confine itself to the labour ministry’s notification on linking of Aadhaar.
Mamata, along with other political parties and individuals and activists, has long been at odds with the Modi government over Aadhaar.
Activists say mandatory Aadhaar for schemes has left many hungry as they were refused rations. Others have raised questions over privacy issues arising out of connecting everything to one number and alleged that it can lead to a surveillance state.
A defiant Mamata recently said “I will not link Aadhaar with my phone; if they want to disconnect my phone, let them”, while Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had earlier pointed to leakage of personal data of lakhs of citizens and asked the government not to compromise on privacy and security concerns in its push for Aadhaar.