Centre extends Aadhar linking deadline to March 31

Ivan Schwartz
December 15, 2017

On extending the deadline for linking new bank accounts, the government submitted that new bank accounts were being opened under schemes like the Jan Dhan Yojana and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and Aadhaar was being linked only for the goal of identification.

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the order on the batch of petitions seeking an interim stay on the Centre's decision directing mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various government schemes and welfare measures.

Two new pleas challenging Aadhaar-one by the West Bengal government on the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to various schemes and another challenging its mandatory linking with mobile numbers-have also been brought to court. In a notification, the government has said that the deadline for linking of Aadhaar with a bank account to March 31 or 6 months from the date of commencement of the account.

By then the top court is expected to decide on the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, which has been challenged by several individuals and NGOs.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, heard arguments in support and against the mandatory linkage of Aadhaar for almost three hours in a packed courtroom and said it would pronounce its interim order tomorrow morning.

The series of government circulars making Aadhaar mandatory is in the teeth of the Supreme Court orders to continue Aadhaar as a voluntary exercise only for availing subsidies and "dimnishes the stature" of the highest court, Mr. Divan argued.

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The deadline for linking mobile number with Aadhaar number is February 6, 2018.

The court had said that Aadhaar could be used only for identification purposes vis-a-vis six schemes, he said. The attorney general said the law had overruled all earlier court orders.

The government had on Wednesday issued a notification to extend till March 31 the deadline for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar and Permanent Account Number (PAN) for bank accounts and certain financial transactions.

Subramanium and other lawyers also said that the Aadhaar legislation can not take away the basis of the apex court orders that the scheme was voluntary. He said in a town of 20,000 people, 200 anti-social elements can bring a bad name and affect the life of the other people. Senior advocate Anand Grover claimed that identity based on iris and other biometrics was not reliable.

On 30 October, the apex court referred all Aadhaar cases to a five-judge Constitution bench to be formed by the end of November.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi said till the government enacted a law on data protection, the court should insist that the government protected privacy of citizens. But the AG, the Unique Identification Authority of India and the Reserve Bank of India contested all these views.

Other reports by GizPress

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