The Supreme Court will pronounce on Friday its interim order on mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various schemes and services, including bank accounts, even as the Centre extended the deadline up to March 31 next year. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the final hearing on the petitions challenging Aadhaar itself would commence from January 17. Attorney general KK Venugopal informed the SC that the government was willing to postpone the stipulated date for mandatory linking Aadhaar to avail the benefit of various services and welfare measures. However, the Centre said Aadhaar or application for enrolling for Aadhaar will continue to be must for opening new bank accounts. The government also said that Aadhaar is being used only for identification purposes and no other information is being shared with telcos and banks.
This comes a day after the government extended by three months the deadline for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar and PAN for bank accounts and certain financial transactions. The deadline for existing bank account holders to furnish Aadhaar was initially December 31, 2017. However, there is no word on extending the February 6, 2018, deadline for linking mobile SIM cards with Aadhaar. On inking of Aadhaar with mobile services, the AG said the deadline of February 6, 2018, was fixed in pursuance of a SC direction; the bench may consider extending this deadline also. The SC was hearing a bunch of pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s decision directing mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various government schemes and welfare measures.
They termed the linking of the UIDAI number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as “illegal and unconstitutional”. Senior advocate Shyam Dhivan, who was representing the petitioners, told the Bench that the apex court had made Aadhaar voluntary, not compulsory. But the Centre had passed a law to make it mandatory for accessing any service, he said, adding that instead of sticking to the court’s order of making it mandatory for six schemes, it was compulsory for 139 schemes.