Aadhaar linking issue: SC pulls up Bengal govt, asks how can state come here directly?

The Supreme Court Monday pulled up Mamata Banerjee Government for directly approaching the court over its challenge against the Centre's move of mandatory linking of Aadhaar to various welfare scheme for availing benefits.

The court has directed Mamata Banerjee to file the petition as a citizen. "How can the State of West Bengal come here directly?, a Bench of A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked, as quoted in The Hindu

"The controversy over Aadhaar needs examination but state government can't file petition against a law passed by Parliament," a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

The bench directed the chief minister to approach the court in an individual capacity if she wishes to challenge the provision which said that without Aadhaar, the benefits of social welfare schemes would not be extended.

The West Bengal Government had filed a writ petition against Centre under Article 32 of the Constitution. The specific article can only be used by individual citizens when their fundamental rights are being violated by the State. Article 32 cannot be used by a State against the Centre.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Mamata Banerjee-led 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. 

"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. 

"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. 

Meanwhile, the bench issued notice to the Centre on a separate plea filed by an individual challenging the linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar. 

The court has asked the Centre to file its response on the plea in four weeks.