In an ongoing case challenging the centre's decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for government welfare schemes, the Supreme Court bench asked the West Bengal state counsel:
"In a federal structure, how can a state file plea challenging Parliament’s mandate? We know it is a matter which needs consideration but you satisfy us how a state can challenge it?"
“You satisfy us how the state has challenged it. We know it is a matter which needs consideration,” the bench said, adding that the Centre’s move can be challenged by an individual but not by states.
The bench, instead, asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to submit a plea before it as an individual. “Let Mamta Banerjee come and file. We will entertain her as an individual,” it said.
Source: Aadhaar case: Supreme Court pulls up West Bengal govt, says ‘how can State challenge Parliament’s mandate’, The Indian Express, October 30, 2017
This strikes me as preposterous. The government is not a military organization where people must follow their superiors' orders without challenge. Further, during a dispute between a state and the centre, who else can adjudicate other than the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to any dispute between the Government of India and one or more States or between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other or between two or more States, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.
Is the bench correct in asking the state government to justify its right to challenge the central government? Clearly the Court's problem is not with the subject of the challenge, but merely about who is raising the challenge.