After a marathon 40-day hearing on Aadhaar spanning five months, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a bunch of petitions, led by ex high court judge K Puttaswamy, challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar on the ground that it violated citizens’ right to privacy.
The petition, filed in the SC in 2012 when Aadhaar was still in a nascent stage and had not become ‘mandatory’, has already achieved a milestone verdict from a nine-judge bench headed by then CJI J S Khehar and of which present CJI Dipak Misra was not a part of.
The nine-judge bench on August 24 last year had unanimously held that right to privacy was a fundamental right and part of every citizen’s right to life. After delivering the judgment, which overruled an eight-judge bench’s 1954 verdict in M P Sharma case, the ninejudge bench of then CJI Khehar and Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer had assigned the case to a five-judge bench.
After Justice Khehar’s retirement, CJI Misra constituted a five-judge bench. Justice Chandrachud is the only link between the five-judge bench and the nine-judge bench which had ruled on right to privacy.
Immediately after taking up the petitions for hearing on December 14 last year, the five judge bench was confronted with the petitioners vociferous opposition to the government’s decision to force citizens to compulsorily link their bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar. On March 13, the bench extended the interim order till pronouncement of judgment on the petitions.