Case sched­ule clouds Aad­haar link dead­line

MARCH 31 Pe­ti­tion­ers to seek ex­ten­sion as slew of lawyers yet to present ar­gu­ments in SC

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Front Page - Ashok Ba­griya let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

NEWDELHI: Pe­ti­tion­ers op­posed to the manda­tory link­ing of Aad­haar with bank ac­counts, phone num­bers and other ser­vices will seek an ex­ten­sion of the dead­line for such link­age, their lawyers said on Tues­day, cit­ing the low prob­a­bil­ity of the case be­ing con­cluded in the Supreme Court by March 31, the cur­rent dead­line for such link­ing.

The Supreme Court is ex­pected to re­sume hear­ing the case on March 6.In De­cem­ber, it ex­tended the last date for com­ple­tion of the process to link Aad­haar with ser­vices to March 31. How­ever, go­ing by where the case stands, it is un­likely to be con­cluded by March-end, the pe­ti­tion­ers con­tend. A de­lay also seems cer­tain be­cause the same five-judge bench hear­ing the Aad­haar case has been asked to hear the land ac­qui­si­tion case on pri­or­ity.

The land ac­qui­si­tion case has oc­cu­pied cen­tre stage in the Supreme Court with one three­judge bench tak­ing is­sue last week with the 8 Fe­bru­ary judge­ment of an­other three-judge bench that, in ef­fect, over­turns the judge­ment of yet an­other three-judge bench dat­ing back to 2014.

“We will be re­new­ing the re­quest for ex­ten­sion of the March 31 dead­line as it is be­com­ing ap­par­ent that the hear­ing can­not be con­cluded and the judg­ment de­liv­ered be­fore March-end,” said se­nior ad­vo­cate San­jay Hedge, who ap­pears for pe­ti­tioner John Abra­ham, a stu­dent de­nied ad­mis­sion to a Mum­bai col­lege for lack of Aad­haar.

Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat- ter in UIDAI con­cur with the as­sess­ment that the judg­ment is un­likely to be de­liv­ered by March 31, and said that an ex­ten­sion is “likely”. One of­fi­cial said that it was for the court to de­cide on the dead­line, and that the author­ity would com­ply with an ex­ten­sion, if needed.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the UIDAI, said it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for him to speak on the is­sue. “Since the mat­ter is sub ju­dice in the Supreme Court, let’s wait for the court’s ver­dict,” he said.

So far, only se­nior ad­vo­cates Shyam Di­van and Kapil Sibal ap­pear­ing for the pe­ti­tion­ers have fin­ished their ar­gu­ments. Se­nior ad­vo­cate Gopal Subra­ma­nium, who ap­pears for one of the pe­ti­tion­ers, is cur­rently mid­way through his ar­gu­ments. Six more lawyers, Arvind Datar, KTS Tulsi, Anand Grover, KV Viswanathan, Mi­nakshi Arora and San­jay Hegde , are to fol­low.

Af­ter that, it will be the turn of the gov­ern­ment , led by at­tor­ney gen­eral KK Venu­gopal, to de­fend Aad­haar. There­after, UIDAI and the Gu­jarat and Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ments will make sep­a­rate ar­gu­ments on the mat­ter.

One of the main ar­gu­ments of the pe­ti­tion­ers chal­leng­ing the va­lid­ity of Aad­haar is that it vi­o­lates pri­vacy rights. The gov­ern­ment has ar­gued that Aaad­har is nec­es­sary to plug leak­ages in its sub­sidy pro­grammes and pre­vent cor­rup­tion.

“Yes, we will be press­ing for the ex­ten­sion of the March 31 dead­line for link­ing Aad­haar to var­i­ous ser­vices as the hear­ing can­not be com­pleted by Marchend,” said ad­vo­cate Vipin Nair, who ap­pears for pe­ti­tioner Dr Kalyani Menon Sen.

“The land ac­qui­si­tion case, to be heard by the same bench , will come up first, fur­ther low­er­ing the chance of a judg­ment in the lat­ter by the end of next month,” Nair added.

Ac­cord­ing to the list of busi­ness re­leased by the Supreme Court registry, the land ac­qui­si­tion case, to be heard by the same five-judge bench hear­ing the Aad­haar case, will be taken up first.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate Jaideep Gupta, who is not ap­pear­ing in the Aad­haar case, said a ver­dict was not likely by March 31 even if the court passed in­terim or­ders on the is­sue and re­sumed the Aad­har hear­ing at the ear­li­est. “The court is giv­ing full lat­i­tude to coun­sels to ar­gue the way they want. At the rate which the case is pro­gress­ing, it very un­likely that the hear­ing will end by March end. It will take much longer.”

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