On 11 January 2021, the Supreme Court of India (SC) dismissed a batch of Review Petitions that were filed for challenging the verdict passed in 2018 by the Constitution Bench regarding the Aadhaar case. Justice Chandrachud dissented with the dismissal of the petitions and said that it would have serious consequences for the ends of justice
A five-judge bench, comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Ashok Bhushan, Justice S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, and Dr. DY Chandrachud, dismissed review petitions filed for challenging the verdict of the Constitution Bench in Aadhaar case by 4:1 majority.
Justices AM Khanwilkar, Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer, and BR Gavai agreed on the fact that no case for the Review of the verdict passed in 2018 arises. However, Justice DY Chandrachud dissented with the decision of the majority.
While dismissing the review petitions the bench stated, "In our opinion, no case for review of judgment and order dated 26 September 2018 is made out. We hasten to add that change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger Bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review."
On the contrary, Justice Chandrachud in his dissenting opinion held that it was a constitutional error to hold at this stage that no ground exists to review the judgment. He further opined that the review petitions should be kept open until the larger bench decides the questions referred to it in Rojer Mathew's Case.
While passing a dissenting judgment, Justice Chandrachud stated "If these review petitions are to be dismissed and the larger bench reference in Rojer Mathew were to disagree with the analysis of the majority opinion in Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J.), it would 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 referred to it in Rojer Mathew."
He added, "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."
In 2018, a five-judge bench headed by Justice AK Sikri upheld the Aadhaar Act as being constitutional. Justice Sikri struck down a few but significant Sections of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, such as Section 33(2), 47, and 57.Justice Chandrachud had dissented earlier as well with the verdict and opined that the entire Aadhaar project is unconstitutional.
Another constitutional bench headed by the Former Chief Justice of India (CJI), Ranjan Gogoi, took up a challenge to the Aadhar Card in the case of Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Ltd. and examined the validity of provisions of Finance Act 2017 affecting Tribunals.
The Former CJI doubted the correctness of the interpretation of the majority judgment which held that the Aadhaar Bill is a Money Bill within the meaning of Article 110(1) of the Constitution. He pointed out that the majority did not examine the repercussions of a finding when some of the provisions of an enactment passed as a 'Money Bill' do not conform to Article 110(1)(a)-(g) of the Constitution and hence the matter was referred to a larger bench.
Justice Chandrachud while dissenting with the majority noted that without the seven-judge bench ruling on what the word "only" in Article 110 (1) of the Constitution denotes, the questions in the Aadhaar review petitions cannot be satisfactorily answered.