Aadhaar: Deadline for linkage with Schemes, Bank Accounts, Mobile Phones extended to March 31

Supreme Court: Passing interim order in the most talked about Aadhaar linkage matter, the 5-judge Constitution Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ accepted the Central Government’s submission of extending the deadline for linking Aadhaar with all the schemes and existing bank accounts to 31st March 2018.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, had brought before the Court’s notice that the interim order of the Constitution Bench dated 15.10.2015, wherein it was directed that

  • Aadhaar Cards could permissibly be utilized only for six schemes
  • the Union Government was directed to strictly follow the earlier orders of this Court commencing from 23 September 2013; and
  • the Aadhaar card scheme was to be purely voluntary and could not be made mandatory until the matter is finally decided by this Court.

He, hence, argued:

“since the interim order governs the field it was the obligation of the Union government to seek a variation of the interim directions after the enactment of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 before making it mandatory to uplink or provide details of the Unique Identification Number/Aadhaar card for all purposes.”

Attorney General KK Venugopal, on the other hand, submitted:

“the interim directions were issued in the absence of a legislative framework. After Parliament has enacted the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the interim orders would not pose any impediment to enforcing the provisions of the law, duly enacted. Moreover, the reasonableness of each notification would have to be justified by the department concerned.”

Regarding new bank accounts, Attorney General submitted that while the last date for completing the process of Aadhaar linking may be extended until 31 March 2018, persons desirous to open new accounts shall produce proof to the bank of an application having been submitted for obtaining an Aadhaar card together with the application number which shall be supplied to the account opening bank. The Court accepted the said submission.

Regarding Aadhaar based E-KYC for mobile phone subscribers, the Court extended the date for the completion of the E-KYC process in respect of mobile phone subscribers until 31 March 2018. The original deadline for the same was 6 February 2018.

The Bench also clarified that as far as the provisions of Section 139 AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 are concerned, the matter stands governed by the judgment of this Court in Binoy Visman v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 647.

Stating that the order will continue to operate pending the disposal of the proceedings before the Constitution Bench, the Court listed the entire batch of Aadhaar petitions for final hearing on January 17, 2018. [Justice K S Puttaswamy v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1462, order dated 15.12.2017]

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