SC judge loses his cool during Aadhaar case hearing

Updated: Feb 04, 2018, 14:29 IST | Agencies

"We are neither defending the government, nor are we going to follow the NGO line," a visibly irked Supreme Court judge, who is part of a Constitution bench hearing cases challenging the validity of Aadhaar, said yesterday

Representation pic
Representation pic

"We are neither defending the government, nor are we going to follow the NGO line," a visibly irked Supreme Court judge, who is part of a Constitution bench hearing cases challenging the validity of Aadhaar, said yesterday.

Justice D Y Chandrachud, who is part of the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, lost his cool after not getting a satisfactory reply to his query from senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the petitioners opposed to the government's flagship Aadhaar scheme and its enabling law.

Divan referred to an affidavit of the central government filed in the case, which cited a World Bank report, stating that India has an estimated saving of $11 billion per annum by using Aadhaar in its various schemes.

The lawyer submitted that the Centre used the report, saying the World Bank is an independent body and will not indulge in "puffery". He also contended that the World Bank report was not authentic, as recently its chief Paul Romer resigned saying there was no integrity in its data.

Justice Chandrachud asked Divan as to what amounted to "puffery" as per the petitioners and where it was dealt and referred to in their pleadings. He said the moment questions are asked, the allegations are levelled that "you are ideologically committed" and will be termed as an "Aadhaar judge".

"The moment we ask questions, we are attacked... If that is so, then, I plead guilty to the charge. We are not defending the government, nor are we going to follow the NGO line," Justice Chandrachud said. "We are committed to the conscience of the Constitution," Justice Chandrachud said, adding that he would like to be a "nationalist judge".

"Since beginning, I am hearing this that if I am not with you, then I am an Aadhaar judge. I don't care, I am not answerable to anybody. I am committed to the Constitution," the judge said. The senior lawyer tendered an apology. Justice Chandrachud accepted it.

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