The deadline to link Aadhaar to various services has been extended by the Supreme Court. The decision was taken on Tuesday afternoon. The apex court said that the deadline to link Aadhaar with mobile or bank accounts has been extended until the disposal of Aadhaar case. ‘SC extends March 31 deadline for Aadhaar linkages till the constitution bench delivers judgement on the matter,’ PTI reported. Earlier, the deadline to link Aadhaar with various services was set for March 31, 2018. This development comes as a major relief for those who haven’t linked their Aadhaar yet.
However, the order will not apply to the deadline for subsidies and benefits under Section 7. This effectively means that the order will not apply in cases where subsidies are given by the government. So, while consumers will have time to link their mobile number, bank accounts and other institutions till Constitutional Bench hears the matter, government schemes where subsidies and benefits are given will have to be linked to Aadhaar by March 31.
Section 7 of Aadhaar Act relates to the targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India.
In another significant order, the apex court ruled that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for issuing Tatkal passport. The order was passed by the Constitution Bench of the top court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
The Supreme Court had in 2013 prevented the government from forcing people to submit their Aadhaar number to access welfare schemes. However, the BJP-led NDA government managed to get around this hurdle by getting parliamentary approval for a new law in 2016.
Aadhaar, a Congress project, was originally launched in 2009-10 under the UPA dispensation.
On December 2017, the apex court had set March 31 as the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes. However, a five-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan is hearing pleas seeking a stay on the decision of making Aadhaar linking mandatory to avail services.
Last week, the government had hinted that this deadline may be extended if required. Attorney general K.K.Venugopal had told the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court that the centre had extended the deadline in the past and can do it again.
Meanwhile, the UIDAI had recently given green signal to low Aadhaar enrollment and updation at nearly 2,500 out of over 7,000 bank branches that have started the facility, and instructed banks to take immediate steps to correct the situation. “The total enrollments or updation that can happen in a branch are 40 to 50 a day. We have said it could be a little lower or higher, but they need to bring it to at least 16 per branch per day to start with,” Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey said.
The Election Commission of India, on the other hand, said that as many as 32 crore people in the country have linked their Aadhaar numbers to voter ID cards. Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that another 54.5 crore Aadhaar numbers will be done as soon as they get a nod from the Supreme Court.
Asked how long it would take to link another 54.5 crore Aadhaar numbers, Rawat said “we did 32 crore in just three months”.