The Centre on Thursday morning informed the Supreme Court that it is willing to extend the deadline for Aadhaar card linking to various services and schemes until March 31 next year. The Supreme Court now will be setting up a five-judge Constitution Bench next week to hear several pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar. The news came as a huge relief for a lot of people. However, there’s a big catch. The decision will be taken only for those people who have failed to apply for the Aadhaar card yet and do not possess any ID proof. At present, the deadline for linking the 10-digit alphanumeric PAN (Permanent Account Number), issued by the Income Tax Department, with Aadhaar card is 31 December.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal that the Centre was willing to extend the deadline of December 31 to March 31 next year for linking of Aadhaar with various services and schemes. However, it was made clear that February 6 next year would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar for availing uninterrupted mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who was representing those opposing the Aadhaar scheme told the bench that also included AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud that the central government must give an undertaking saying that no coercive steps would be taken against those who fail to link their Aadhaar with various services.
The apex court on October 30 had said that a Constitution Bench would commence hearing on the clutch of petitions against Aadhaar scheme from the last week of November.
Meanwhile, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had recently held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had claimed it violated privacy rights.
The Centre had on October 25 told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes has been extended till March 31, 2018 for those who do not have the 12-digit unique biometric identification number and were willing to enrol for it.