The Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear pleas challenging the constitutional validity of recent Aadhaar ordinance brought by the Centre and asked the petitioners to approach the high court with their grievances.
A bench of justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer said it is not expressing anything on the merits of the case and would like to have the view of the high court on the issue.
“We would like to have advantage of view of the high court,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the bench that it was a matter of “national importance” as it will have a pan-India effect and the apex court should decide the issue.
To this, the bench said, “We are not saying we do not have the power to entertain this”.
“The counsel appearing for the petitioners pray for withdrawal of these petitions with liberty to approach the high court. Prayer is allowed. Accordingly, the writ petitions are dismissed as withdrawn with the liberty aforesaid,” the bench said in its order.
President Ram Nath Kovind had last month given his assent to the Aadhaar Ordinance that allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar as ID proof for obtaining mobile SIM cards and opening bank accounts.
The ordinance was necessitated because Rajya Sabha could not approve a Bill after its passage by Lok Sabha.
The Cabinet had approved the promulgation of an ordinance to give effect to changes proposed in Aadhaar and two others legislations.
The amendments provide for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.
It bans storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication.
However, the amendments make it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it opening of a bank account or obtaining a mobile phone SIM card.
A five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had in September last year declared the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.
The court had held that while Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of Income Tax returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN), it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and telecom service providers cannot seek its linking for mobile connections.