The Supreme Court today refused to accord urgent hearing on a plea challenging a notification of the Department of Telecom (DOT) for mandatory linking of mobile numbers with Aadhaar. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer refused to list the plea tomorrow and said that a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra was seized of similar matters. The court asked the counsel, who sought urgent listing of the plea, to mention the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice on October 30 when the other matters on Aadhaar are taken up. The plea, which was mentioned today, has been filed by Tehseen Poonawala who has sought direction to quash the notification of March 23 issued by the DOT and to hold it “unconstitutional” and “null and void”. It had also sought direction to the telecom operators to prevent them from implementing this notification and destroy the data already collected.
The Centre had yesterday told a bench headed by Chief Justice that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail the benefits of various government schemes has been extended till March 31 next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number. Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the bench that he needs to take instructions on certain issues after which the court had asked him to mention the matter again on October 30. The apex court had on February 6 asked the Centre to put in place within a year an effective mechanism to scrutinise the details of identity of over 100 crore existing and future mobile telephone consumers.
The top court while hearing a PIL filed by Lok Niti Foundation had said it hoped that the procees of linking would be completed in the near future and before one year. The court had suggested that the existing pre-paid mobile users, who are 90 per cent of the total mobile users, may be asked to give identity details at the time of re-charge as done while giving fresh SIM cards to users. The verification has become more important in view of the fact that mobile phones are now being used for banking purposes also, it had said.