The Aadhaar matter hearing in the Supreme Court today witnessed some lighter moments when Justice A K Sikri said even he has been receiving messages from mobile service providers and the banks to link his account and phone number with Aadhaar. The issue about messages received from banks and mobile service providers was raised by senior lawyer K V Vishwanathan, who was representing one of the petitioners. Vishwanathan told the bench, which also comprised Justice Ashok Bhushan, that the people were “in a panicky situation” as the messages received from the banks and telecom service providers were threatening them of deactivation of accounts or mobile numbers if they failed to link them with Aadhaar. Attorney General K K Venugopal countered his submissions saying these were oral arguments only.
“I do not want to say this in the presence of media people, but I am also receiving such messages,” Justice Sikri said. During the hearing, Vishwanathan said the Centre should tell the banks and mobile service providers not to send such messages but they should instead inform the customers about the last date of linking Aadhaar. The apex court later made it clear that banks and telecom service providers will have to indicate the last date of linking the accounts and mobile numbers with Aadhaar in their communications with the customers. At present, the last date to link Aadhaar with bank accounts is December 31 this year while for mobile numbers, it is February 6, 2018.
The bench also observed that the petitioners could raise all issues before another bench which would commence the final hearing on Aadhaar-related matters in the last week of this month. The recent affidavit filed by the Centre in the top court in Aadhaar matter was also referred to during the hearing. Regarding linking of bank accounts with Aadhaar, the Centre has said in its affidavit that though the last date was December 31, it may be extended up to March 31 next year. “Therefore, until March 31, 2018, existing bank accounts will not be made non-operational for not linking with Aadhaar. But as far as opening of new bank accounts are concerned, Aadhaar or enrolment ID must be given as proof of identity,” it said. On mobile number linking, it said since the apex court’s February 6 this year order required Aadhaar-based e-KYC verification of subscribers within one year, the February 6, 2018 deadline for this cannot be modified by the government unilaterally.