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SC extends Aadhar linking with various services indefinitely till final verdict

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(G.N.S) Dt. 13
New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the 31 March deadline for linking Aadhaar with various services till the five-judge constitution bench delivers its judgement on petitions challenging the validity of the biometric scheme and the enabling law.
The five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the government cannot insist for mandatory Aadhaar.
The deadline to link Aadhaar to various services has been extended by the Supreme Court. The decision was taken on Tuesday afternoon. The apex court said that the deadline to link Aadhaar with mobile or bank accounts has been extended until the disposal of Aadhaar case. ‘SC extends March 31 deadline for Aadhaar linkages till the constitution bench delivers judgement on the matter,’ media reported. Earlier, the deadline to link Aadhaar with various services was set for March 31, 2018. This development comes as a major relief for those who haven’t linked their Aadhaar yet.
On December 15, 2017, the apex court had extended till March 31, 2018, the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes.
Earlier senior advocate Shyam Divan, who had led the arguments challenging Aadhaar and its enabling Act, said that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was highly unlikely that the hearing in the case challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act will be concluded.
“The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes is March 31. This will have all India ramification as various institution would have to adjust themselves accordingly,” Divan had said.
Justice Chandrachud said even if the court reserved its verdict on March 20, 2018, the banks and other institution would have only 10 days left, which might be difficult.
However, the order will not apply to the deadline for subsidies and benefits under Section 7. This effectively means that the order will not apply in cases where subsidies are given by the government. So, while consumers will have time to link their mobile number, bank accounts and other institutions till Constitutional Bench hears the matter, 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.
In another significant order, the apex court ruled that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for issuing Tatkal passport. The order was passed by the Constitution Bench of the top court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
On December 2017, the apex court had set March 31 as the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes. However, a five-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan is hearing pleas seeking a stay on the decision of making Aadhaar linking mandatory to avail services.
Last week, the government had hinted that this deadline may be extended if required. Attorney general K.K.Venugopal had told the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court that the centre had extended the deadline in the past and can do it again.
In February this year, former Karnataka High Court judge Justice KS Puttaswamy had told the apex court that several deaths had reportedly taken place due to starvation on account of glitches in the Aadhaar-based public distribution system and the court must consider granting them compensation.
He had urged the bench to consider granting compensation to those who had suffered on the ground of exclusion due to Aadhaar, particularly the kin of the starvation death victims.
The top court had also observed that the alleged defect of citizens’ biometric details under the Aadhaar scheme being collected without any law could be cured by subsequently bringing a statute.
Meanwhile, the UIDAI had recently given green signal to low Aadhaar enrollment and updation at nearly 2,500 out of over 7,000 bank branches that have started the facility, and instructed banks to take immediate steps to correct the situation. “The total enrollments or updation that can happen in a branch are 40 to 50 a day. We have said it could be a little lower or higher, but they need to bring it to at least 16 per branch per day to start with,” Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey said.
The Election Commission of India, on the other hand, said that as many as 32 crore people in the country have linked their Aadhaar numbers to voter ID cards. Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that another 54.5 crore Aadhaar numbers will be done as soon as they get a nod from the Supreme Court.
Asked how long it would take to link another 54.5 crore Aadhaar numbers, Rawat said “we did 32 crore in just three months”.

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