Aadhaar linking deadline for all services extended indefinitely

AadharThe apex court, in a decision taken on February 13 afternoon, has extended the March 31 deadline to link Aadhaar with mobile or bank accounts until the disposal of the unique ID case.

The Supreme Court extends March 31 deadline for Aadhaar linkages till the constitution bench delivers judgement on the matter, media reports said. The development is being seen as a major relief by those who haven’t linked their Aadhaar yet.

Earlier in the day, a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan heard a clutch of pleas seeking a stay on government’s decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with welfare schemes, as well as essential services like banking and phone.

Aadhaar will be necessary only for social schemes, the top court, which is hearing a bunch of petitions that have challenged the validity of the 12-digit number, reportedly said.

The order will not apply to the deadline for subsidies and benefits under Section 7, media reports pointed out.

This effectively means that the order will not apply in cases where subsidies are given by the government. In other words, government schemes where subsidies and benefits are given will have to be linked to Aadhaar by March 31.

Section 7 of Aadhaar Act relates to the targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India.

The apex court also ruled that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for issuing Tatkal passport, the reports added.

The Supreme Court had in 2013 prevented the government from forcing people to submit their Aadhaar number to access welfare schemes. However, the BJP-led NDA government managed to get around this hurdle by getting parliamentary approval for a new law in 2016.

Earlier, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that the government could extend the March 31 deadline for linking Aadhaar to various government schemes, as well as mobile phones and bank accounts, if required.