Review petitions challenging 2018 judgment upholding constitutionality of Aadhaar Scheme dismissed by SC
The primary ground for challenging the correctness of 2018 judgment was that the Act was “incorrectly certified as a Money Bill by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha”
The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petitions challenging its 2018 judgment, which had upheld the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Scheme.
The order was passed by a Bench of AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer and BR Gavai in chambers. Justice DY Chandrachud dissented from the majority.
"We have perused the review petitions as well as the grounds in support thereof. In our opinion, no case for review of judgment and order dated September 26, 2018 is made out. We hasten to add that change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger Bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review. The review petitions are accordingly dismissed," the majority judges ruled, as per a report carried by Bar & Bench.
Justice Chandrachud's dissent came in the light of the fact that another Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court while hearing a case relating to validity of Finance Act, 2017 (Rojer Mathew v South Indian Bank Ltd) had held that the Aadhaar judgment did not correctly lay down the law regarding what constitutes a ‘Money Bill’ under Article 110 of the Constitution.
Both Aadhaar Act and Finance Act, 2017 were passed as money bills thereby doing away with the necessity of clearance by Rajya Sabha. The recommendations made by Rajya Sabha on money bills are not binding on Lok Sabha which may choose to reject it.
The Court in Rojer Mathew case, therefore, referred the legal issue relating to certification of money bills to a larger Bench in view of the fact that both Rojer Mathew and Aadhaar were by a Bench of five judges.
Justice Chandrachud has now dissented in the review of Aadhaar judgment citing the Rojer Mathew case.
"If these review petitions are to be dismissed and the larger bench reference in Rojer Mathew were to disagree with the analysis of the majority opinion in Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J.), it would have serious consequences – not just for judicial discipline, but also for the ends of justice. As such, the present batch of review petitions should be kept pending until the larger bench decides the questions referred to it in Rojer Mathew," he held.
The constitutional principles of consistency and the rule of law would require that a decision on the review petitions should await the reference to the larger Bench, he added.
The review was earlier slated to be held on June 9, last year, with Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao also forming part of the Bench.
However, in May 2017, a petition questioning the Centre’s notification to make Aadhaar mandatory for mid-day meals had been adjourned when Justice L Nageswara Rao recused, as he had earlier appeared for Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as a lawyer. The decision to reschedule the June 9 hearing was also attributed to this factor.
Apart from Justice Rao, the Bench constituted which eventually heard the review also saw the substitution of Chief Justice Bobde. Instead, Justices Abdul Nazeer and BR Gavai were made part of the Bench.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, had urged that the review against the verdict that upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 be heard in open court. However, the Court chose to list the matter to be heard in chambers.
The primary ground for challenging the correctness of 2018 judgment was that the Act was "incorrectly certified as a Money Bill by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha".
It was further contended that the case of review involved important issues relating to the interpretation of the Constitution which requires oral submissions before an open court hearing.