Aadhaar mandatory linking: Supreme Court extends deadline to 31 March

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday extended the deadline up to 31 March 2018 for linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile phone numbers, and various schemes and welfare measures.

The court will begin hearing arguments on the validity of Aadhaar on 10 January. A Constitution bench of five judges—Chief Justice Dipak 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 on Thursday told the court that the government was willing to extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar with all services to 31 March, with the exception of mobile phones and new bank accounts.

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 purpose of identification.

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

While the deadline for linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and PAN has been extended to 31 March, for mobile phone SIM cards, it is 6 February.

The court had earlier tagged 22 cases to be heard by a smaller bench. The cases challenge several aspects of Aadhaar, including the use of data collected under the unique identification programme.

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