New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday extended the deadline for linking of Aadhaar with mobile services and opening of new bank accounts to 31 March 2018.
The new deadline would also be applicable to the schemes of ministries/departments of the Union government as well as those of state governments, the court ruled in an interim order.
Accordingly, those opening a bank account without a unique 12-digit biometric identification number will have until 31 March to submit their Aadhaar details. In the meantime, the application number for Aadhaar may be furnished to the bank.
Deadlines for linking Aadhaar with existing bank accounts, permanent account number and welfare schemes have already been extended to 31 March by the government.
A Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra passed the order on a batch of petitions seeking interim relief from mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile phone numbers and other services.
The bench of five judges—CJI Misra, justices D.Y. Chandrachud, A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan—was constituted on 13 December after repeated attempts by the petitioners for an early hearing on the issue of mandatory Aadhaar linking.
Attorney general K.K. Venugopal told the court that the government was willing to extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar with all its schemes to 31 March, and asked the court to pass an order regarding the deadline for mobile phones and new bank accounts.
Shyam Divan, a senior advocate and one of the petitioners, had argued that Aadhaar linking was being extended to areas such as availing scholarships, nursery admissions and medical treatment for HIV patients, in violation of court orders. “The government has disregarded the court’s earlier orders that continue to have full sanctity and state that until the apex court takes a final decision on Aadhaar, it cannot be made mandatory for all services," Divan said.
He added that the government should have sought a modification of orders limiting mandatory use of Aadhaar.
CJI Misra, however, observed that the court’s earlier orders were passed based on the government’s executive decisions, and need to be tested against the Aadhaar Act notified on 26 March 2016.
On 30 October, the apex court referred all Aadhaar cases to a five-judge Constitution bench.
The court will now begin hearing final arguments on the legality of Aadhaar on 17 January.