The 2018 judgment upholding the validity of the giant national ID scheme Aadhaar need not be reviewed, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, dismissing petitions which challenged the order on grounds that the government had pushed the programme bypassing a vote in the Rajya Sabha.
The 4-1 verdict came with Justice DY Chandrachud dissenting with the majority verdict, saying that the review petitions should be kept pending until a larger bench decides the question related to passing laws as money bills which do not need the Rajya Sabha assent.
In September 2018, Supreme Court had said that the Aadhaar card empowers those on the margins of society, which far outweighs its flaws, upholding the validity of the scheme but with limits on how biometric data collected from more than one billion citizens can be used.
In a four-one majority judgement, the court had cleared the use of Aadhaar for access to welfare schemes but struck down attempts to make it mandatory for bank accounts, mobile phone connections and school admissions.
The Aadhaar Bill was certified as a money bill which enabled the government to get it cleared without getting the assent of a majority in the Rajya Sabha in 2016.
With the validity of the process being looked into by a nine-judge bench of the court, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh and others had called for a review of the 2018 verdict.
"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 five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said.
Disagreeing with the majority opinion, Justice Chandrachud said, "Dismissal of these petitions will 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... In all humility, I conclude that 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.”
Justice Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge bench which had delivered the 2018 verdict, had given a dissenting judgment even then, ruling that the Aadhaar Act should not have been passed as a Money Bill as it amounts to fraud on the constitution and is liable to be struck down.
But the majority verdict of 2018 by the other four judges, including the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, upheld the bill being passed as a money bill in Lok Sabha.