The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government over its plea against Centre's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes, asking how a state can challenge the Parliament's mandate.
The SC said it understood that the matter needed consideration but asked the West Bengal government to satisfy the court how a state can challenge a law passed by the Parliament. The top court asked the state govt how, in a federal structure, a state can file plea challenging Parliament's mandate.
"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.
"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.
The West Bengal government had challenged the provision which says that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended.
The court said the West Bengal Chief Minister could file the plea as an individual.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the 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.
"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.
Earlier, the Centre also informed the court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of various government schemes has been extended till March 31 next year.
The govt 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 enroll 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.
SC issues notice to Centre on mobile-Aadhaar linking
On a separate plea challenging linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar, the apex court has issued a notice to Centre and asked it to reply within four weeks.
A petition challenging a notification of the Department of Telecom (DoT) for mandatory linking of mobile numbers with Aadhaar was filed in the court.
The apex court on February 6 had asked the Centre to put in place within a year an effective mechanism to scrutinise the details of identity of over 100 crore existing and future mobile telephone consumers. The government in turn, made it mandatory to link Aadhaar with mobile numbers.
At a party meeting in Kolkata on Wednesday, Banerjee had also opposed the linking of Aadhaar with mobile phone number, saying "Aadhaar number should not be linked with one's mobile phone. I will not link my Aadhaar number with my mobile even if my connection is snapped."
However, the Aadhaar-mobile issue was not part of the state government's plea, senior advocate and member of parliament Kalyan Banerjee had said last week.
(With PTI inputs)